Health professionals urge PM to “secure her green legacy by banning fracking”

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Anti-fracking protesters outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 13 October 2018 Photo: DrillOrDrop

A group of 143 doctors, nurses and health specialists has called on Theresa May to ban fracking in her final fortnight in office.

In a letter delivered this morning, the group warned the prime minister that her government’s support for fracking puts the health of communities at risk:

“The scientific evidence overwhelmingly shows that permitting fracking in England would pose significant threats to the air, water and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.”

Concerned Health Professionals of the UK, which coordinated the letter, called for an immediate ban on the fracking.

It said there were “fundamental data gaps” in health evidence on fracking and the “best imaginable regulatory frameworks fall far short of protecting our health and environment”.

The group, inspired by Concerned Health Professions of New York, said:

“In the UK it appears we have no structure or will to consider studying and monitoring the health impacts on the communities where fracking takes place. We will not be able to detect harms until it is too late.

“Given the lack of any evidence indicating that fracking can be done safely – and a wealth of evidence to the contrary – we consider a complete and outright ban to be the only responsible decision.”

A spokesperson for Concerned Health Professionals of the UK said the letter aimed to build on last week’s launch of the manifesto by the Conservative Environmental Network (CEN), which included a ban on fracking.

“We are inviting Theresa May to ban fracking as part of her green legacy project. We want to remind her of the CEN manifesto and encourage her to announce a ban on fracking before she leaves office.”

Copies of the letter have also been sent to the Conservative leadership contenders, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, as well as environment, business and energy ministers.

Mrs May has said she will stay in office until there is a successor. The result of the Conservative leadership contest is expected on 23 July 2019.

Last month, Concerned Health Professions of New York published the sixth edition of its Compendium of scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking. The document is based on 1,500 reports and concludes that fracking “poses significant threats to air, water, human health, public safety, community cohesion, long-term economic vitality, biodiversity, seismic stability, and climate stability”.

The UK government continues to quote the finding of a 2012 report by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society which concluded:

“the health, safety and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (often termed ‘fracking’) as a means to extract shale gas can be managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.”

The government also refers to a review in 2013 by Public Health England of evidence on air quality radon gas, naturally occurring radioactive materials, water contamination and waste water. This concluded

“the risks to public health from exposure to emissions from shale gas extraction are low if operations are properly run and regulated.”

65 replies »

  1. 143!!

    A tiny minority of the health professional population.

    I wonder if any of them are responsible for the X ray results I have been months waiting for? If so, please do your day job.

    • MARTIN ,

      PLEASE ADD these to the list .

      As published in the British Medical Journal ( BMJ ) ….. March 2015 .

      These are all STRONGLY AGAINST Fracking in the UK.

      Dr Robin Stott, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council
      Professor Sue Atkinson CBE, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Counci
      Professor Hugh Montgomery, UCL
      Professor Maya Rao OBE
      Professor Martin McKee, LSHTM
      Dr Clare Gerada, GP and former Chair of RGCP
      Dr Christopher Birt, University of Liverpool and Christie Hospital, Manchester
      Professor John Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UCL
      Dr Sheila Adam, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer
      Professor Klim McPherson, Chair of the UK Health Forum
      Dr John Middleton, Vice President UKFPH
      Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, KCL
      Helen Gordon, Board Member, Climate and Health Council
      Dr Frank Boulton, Medact and Southampton University
      Dr Sarah Walpole, Academic Clinical Fellow
      Professor Allyson Pollock, QMUL
      Dr Julie Hotchkiss, Acting Director of Public Health at City of a York Council
      Professor Jennie Popay, Lancaster University

      Here is a link to the letter they wrote MARTIN , take a read and give old Jack your thoughts on the matter.


      • Can they find my X ray results Jack? Or, my fathers false teeth they lost? Or a reason why the Consultant who was supposed to see my son one week after discharge had still not seen him 7 weeks after discharge because he was busy with two private clinics and my son was about to lose his job-in the NHS!

        My wife last week had her third op. that would have cost £10k a pop if not done by the NHS. Now, whilst I pay a chunk of tax, someone else contributes their tax to that cost Jack. Is it you? I suspect, and hope, it may be from business.

        So, I would rather UK gains that from UK fracking rather than buying US fracked gas and allowing them the tax. I would rather UK process our own diesel and gain the tax on that, and if from UK oil and we can gain the tax from that, great. If we do not need to beef up our navy to protect UK tankers in the Gulf then that tax can also plop into the NHS. As for our friends in Norway, who enjoy a better health service than we do in UK, I would prefer some of the tax we export to them to be kept at home and then maybe our health service would catch up with theirs.

        Perhaps when these “experts” can actually control the climate in the hospitals they work in, I may take some notice of their expertise in such subjects-but not until it is based upon evidence.

        • MARTIN ,

          PLEASE chill out , calm down , with that blood pressure your going to need a doctor.

          IFS , BUTS AND MAYBES none of which is relevant to the conversation and as usual NONE of what YOU are saying can be proven ( missing x rays and false teeth )

          To be honest, you’ve gone so far of in to the stratosphere this time, old jack ere is going to have majors problems bringing you back down to earth again.

          Missing False teeth and X Rays , I ask ya , if that’s the best a seasoned, fanatical, pro- fracker can do . Then it’s time for the anti fracking brigade to pack up, go home and put their feet up .

        • MARTIN,

          If we start industrial scale fracking in the UK . What it contributes to the NHS in tax revenue will be dwarfed by the medical demands made by people living within the sacrifice zones ……

          Fracking is no good for human health , or didn’t you know that ??????

          I tell you what I’ll do MARTIN ………. When I see the CEOs and Directors of these fracking companies living with their families within the 0 5km fracking zones , then I will fully embrace the industry myself ……. IS THAT A DEAL MARTIN ??????

          • JACK,

            Please make sure you read the “other” Jacks posts before you get onto your shift!

            Think you will find he is a big believer in the 2013 Lord Brown link that shows fracking will not be economic so there will be no large scale fracking. But it could be an industry on a large scale!

            Come on Jack. Which is it going to be? You don’t have a clue do you? So, not having a clue you make up your mind!

            Tut, tut.

            However, Jack, I would like to see the testing properly concluded to give the EVIDENCE one way or another. You carry on with the twin concepts of an Armageddon of large scale industry out of control, and not being economic enough to get started. I am sure you may find someone who will cherry pick part of that mixture and become excited but, sorry, it does nothing for me.

            You used to be quite careful to show a thread of consistency, Jack.

            • Martin. It was only a month ago that Lord Browne was quoted as saying, ” Fracking in the U.K. Doesn’t make much sense. I think it was a test to see if it worked. We probably don’t need it.”
              That doesn’t appear to be much of an endorsement from someone who at one time was one of the biggest protagonists of fracking in this country.

      • Hi. Is there by any chance a list of health professionals that support unconventional onshore oil and gas (aka fracking) activities, and have they signed any letters of support to anyone at all?

      • Oh, I’m against a lot of things as well Jack! And, I have professional qualifications. So, that’s all sorted then?

        Have you listened to any UK politicians recently? Supposed to be professionals (LOL) but surprise, surprise some are in favour of certain items, some against the same thing! Shock/horror.

        I tend to take note of the ones who talk common sense which is evidence based and ignore those that do neither and show their alternative agendas at the same time. I have found that approach works pretty well.

        But, I have asked this question several times, have received no answer, but will keep trying:

        If UK fracking is not going to work, is uneconomic, will cause all sort of health problems immediately and longer term-WHY TRY AND STOP THE TESTING SHOWING THAT??

        That is a question I get frequently from those who are not excited either way but find it very odd that there is so much concern to STOP a project showing it will not work, from those who STATE it will not work!

        Some would think that speculation and fabrication is not producing a lot of confidence. Selective links will not change that.

        Must switch To Panorama now. This should be illuminating!

        • MARTIN ,

          Please, PLEASE, don’t try and group politicians with the list of highly qualified professionals above.

          You will have people splitting their sides with laughter …….

          You say , you have professional qualifications, in what , Spinning a good yarn maybe ?????? The truth is we will never know .

          These professional qualifications you say you have, can never be proven
          and therefore are ” null on void ” on this platform

          • JACK

            I could be a Liberal Democrat Geologist! Would that make a difference?

            Mind you there are some politicians who are Doctors, Jack. Now, does that mean they are more believable? There are even some who have come from the Church! Many more from the Law.

            Having watched Panorama last night it seems whatever their qualifications there are the majority who still find it difficult to sort out reality from fiction, and believe the rest of us suffer the same problem.

            Ever considered politics as a calling, Jack?

            • Martin: maybe i have an honorary doctorate? Can i be believed any more than by the doctors, nurses & health professionals?, Jack?

        • MARTIN ,

          Every man and his dog knows .

          Give these fracking companies an inch to set up shop ( do testing as you say ) Once they have got their foot in the door , they will push hard for full scale fracking if gas is found ….. It’s best to nip it in the bud now, before it starts

          Come on MARTIN, this is children’s stuff …….. Do you honestly think these fracking companies, if they are given a free hand to test for shale gas are going to give up and walk away after ploughing on millions of £s ……… On the strength of public health and rapid Climate Change ??????

          Well there is enough evidence in the USA to prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that the shale industry is one great plump ponzi scheme that is dangerous to both human and animal health…… That also is dangerous to the enviournment and will greatly fuel rapid climate change …..

          SO WHY are these fracking companies still wanting to do their TESTING in the UK MARTIN ???????

          LINKS can be supplied to verily the above , please ask ?????????

          • But Jack, your Lord Brown who you link repeatedly as the authority, not speculation-which is what it was-says it will not be economical! So, that would show and it would not get started. Perhaps you are just unsure and want to whinge.

            Of course there is no evidence in the USA that many are quite delighted with fracking in their communities who either have gained directly or indirectly within their communities?

            Interesting to see Brent crude heading back towards $70/barrel. Seems the markets react regarding energy security whilst the politicians try to spin their fantasies. Cost of living increase on its way, maybe recession to follow, which the majority will notice whilst the minority will see it as a price worth paying-by somebody else. Donald and the Norwegians will be laughing.

            • Houston (Jack) we have a problem!

              “A daily cup of tea with two sugars could increase the risk of cancer by 18% research suggests. For women the likelihood of breast cancer was 22% higher.”

              I have to visit my local hospital later today. Suppose that means I will have to wade through discarded ladies upper decker wobble checkers being photographed by strange individuals if I take the route past the cafes filled with doctors and nurses drinking their cups of tea?

              • Just noticed Jack, from your sign in-THERE ARE TWO OF YOU!! Now I understand fracking in UK will not work v there will be extensive industrial development. Doctors can help with that you know.

                768 new blocks/part blocks up for grabs in N.Sea/West of Shetland announced today for oil and gas exploration. John will be pleased! However, I suspect Queen Nic will place a moratorium upon it. LOL

                • Oops-THREE OF YOU NOW, blue Jack, yellow Jack or baby jack!

                  Quite an industry going on there. Popping up like UK fracking sites.

                  Only one of me-you will all be pleased to know.

                • MARTIN ,

                  You will be pleased, or sad to know.

                  Although there is a different colour and style emblem at the top of the post , I can assure you it is the same person .

                  There is only one jackthelad

                • I’m sure you can Green Jack, but can the other two? (Sorry about the “yellow”. It is the eye drops that do it.)

                  I know-it is all about trying to help the “follower” numbers. LOL

                  I know you wish to ignore individuals areas of expertise Jack, but I used to do a lot of proof reading. Ever since, such anomalies just shout out to me.

                  But, to cheer you all up for the weekend:

                  Sir Jim has repaired the Forties Pipeline.

                  He is now Nice Sir Jim-Giggle should explain that for you.

                  And, a nice new investment in Germany announced.

                  He does get around. Wonder if work has started on his new house overlooking the IOW? (He doesn’t seem too much of a Nimby regarding oil and gas development, so the charge brought against some in the industry within the last few days doesn’t seem to apply across the board.)

                  Alternatively, a Ponzi operation with too much debt!

              • MARTIN ,

                Re- Houston we have a problem

                Don’t worry MARTIN , what you are hearing is the radio of your old friend jack.

                He’s made the dangerous trip in to space to bring you and your missing false teeth ” Back Down To Earth “

          • Jackthelad: if you are not an investor in this so called ponzi scheme, then you have nothing to loose.
            Argument over!

      • There is a few studies claim drinking soybean milk is associated with increased risk of breast cancer. And yet I dont see these health professionals calling for ban on soy milk. Double standard.

        • TW The difference with all these various theories on which food stuffs, or smoking, drinking or whatever, may cause cancer or any other disease is that people have a choice whether they indulge in them Anyone unfortunate to find themselves living in the vicinity of a fracking pad or suffering the dire consequences of cllimate chaos have no such choice.

          • Pauline – I don’t think the Chinese peasants living next to the highly toxic mines that are producing the critical elements for renewables have much of a choice either. It’s not in your back yard so I guess it won’t concern you too much

            • Of course it concerns me that anyone has to live near toxic mines, Governments everywhere should not allow industries to cause harm to their people. It also concerns me that millions in the future will find themselves living with floods, failed crops leading to famine, droughts and uncontrollable wild fires. If people are concerned about migrants and refugees now, they have no idea of the scale of people who will be forced to leave their homes thanks to climate breakdown. The existence of every living thing on earth is at risk if we don’t stop this insane quest for more fossil fuels.

    • Another 147 making a stand against the industry; thank you for your time guys and good luck with this.
      A storm begins with a few drops of rain….

  2. And the RAE report contained 10 recommendations of which only 1 has been implemented and the PHE report cut off the evidence base before most independent health studies had reported….

  3. Not as tiny as the minority that support fracking … which now seems to just be a few very sad lonely men on this website.

    And where is the letter from all the health professionals that support fracking and don’t think it’s a health risk? Here’s a clue – there aren’t any.

    • Ha ha Ellie. 99.99% of people in the UK have never heard of this website. Ruth / Paul will give you the numbers. More representative would be membership numbers of Greepeas and Enemies of Industry?

    • That is a very presumptive statement! Ellie?
      Similar to that of the anti’s who have adorned the gates of these unconventional oil and gas sites, and filling their social media sites with lies, and a lack of specific facts in an industry they don’t understand and which they stubbornly use for everyday components, but are happy to believe the rhetoric from not scientists in the areas of chemistry! 143 is not a-lot considering the NHS employs:-

      Nurses and health visitors.

      The GB population is 66.04 million, do you not think that turning the lights and heating off in every hospital, removing fossil fuel derived medical utensils and provisions the NHS wouldn’t suffer? and how may i as do the doctors get to work without their 5litre BMWs? It all a bit sceptical, and more like a story out of the Daily Mail!

      • Given you’ve quoted these numbers it should be very easy then to find over 140 Doctors that do support fracking and think it a good thing for health, won’t it Eli?

    • Ellie, what a sexist nonsense! Think you will find Judith may have something to say about that.

      And looking at recent postings it may be there are less antis posting than those who are not anti. Indeed, many of the regular antis have become very irregular now, or disappeared altogether.

      But, don’t let the reality get in the way.

      • Martin – Ellie is clearly wrong about every pro-fracker on here being male. However, a survey that I’ve seen definitely shows a small bias related to gender. The 20% of the population that are hard antis are made up of 60% woman – most also have no scientific qualifications and a large number are against fluoride in water, vaccinations, GM food, 5G etc. The 20% that are very pro-fracking are totally the opposite – 60% male, most with a scientific qualification and are very pro issues such as fluoride in water, vaccinations, GM food, 5G etc.

      • Martin. Maybe the reason antis don’t bother to contribute in such numbers could be the fact that the Drill or Drop comments section seems to have been taken over by a small fracking appreciation society with all day to spend making inane, irrelevant remarks.

        • Pauline – it never ceases to amaze me how easily people like you can dismiss arguments that you agree with as inane and irrelevant. I’ve never seen a single argument that you’ve made against fracking that has scientific basis. It also seems a little odd saying that people have too much time on their hands when you yourself openly admit to spending lots of time at the PNR gates.

          • Judith. My post was regarding Martin’s comment that anti frackers are not so numerous on Drill or Drop any more. I merely pointed out that this could possibly be because of the unceasing bombardment of the site by a few well known pro frackers who appear to dominate the comments.
            As far as my posts not containing the scientific argument to fracking, I do not pretend to be a scientist and that is why you will find I don’t comment on that subject.
            As far as time spent commenting, I think you must agree that Martin, in particular, to whom my reply was addressed, does seem to find time to make an awful lot of comments which are often completely incoherent and off topic.
            As for how I spend my time. At 72 years of age, I still work 2 days a week. I also have a family a home, a number of animals and a large garden to care for. If I choose to spend what time I can at PNR, I believe that is my business.

        • [Edited by moderator]

          However, there are some who post decent technical information within these debates, and have knowledge of the subject. You may find that inane and irrelevant and think to simply try and imply they are paid to do so, are investors wanting to secure their investments, have no morality, don’t believe in climate change, etc. etc. is more important.

          But, I can’t quite see why the comments of those who are not anti should put off those who are from posting. If they are frightened of being challenged to be accurate, why do the same the reverse way? However, if that remains a problem then filter the posts that are inane or irrelevant to you. They may not be to others, perhaps some who want some understanding as to why they still represent a minority view even after years where the majority have not had data to demonstrate the potential rewards to them. You may find that an inane comment but you can research the subject. I can give you what you would find-that is an extremely unusual result from market research into a delayed new product/project. That is NOT irrelevant, Pauline. But, maybe more comfortable to filter than consider.

  4. Why don’t we ban smoking, kissing and alcohol while we are at it! (Not particularly in that order!)

  5. I quite agree that 143 health professionals opposed to fracking isn’t many but could you find 143 who are in favour of fracking.

    • Well I’m a retired health professional, not sure if that counts, and I’ll be the first of the 143 to support fracking.

      By the way I’ve recently been spending about 4hrs a day visiting in a Critical Care Ward ( where the care incidentally has been brilliant – gentle, humane and professional). The amount of disposable sterile plastic used to reduce the risk of infection is about one big sackful per patient per day by my estimation. I thank God for whoever produced it.

  6. What you mean John is it is easier to be against something that has yet to show real evidence in UK than to be in favour of it!

    Yep, I can agree with that. But, not science. However, I would prefer to base my decision on evidence so when I see someone in charge of a ward moaning at a technician because she had one bay out of order due to faulty equipment for a week and had to be told it needed to be plugged in not only to the wall but also to the back of the machine I recalled that these people had been granted a large salary increase because they had to be graduates as the job had become more technical!

    I can run through a whole list of other degrees of technical incompetence from personal experience, so perhaps when that starts to diminish and the day job is sorted I still will not follow advice from people who are supposed to be scientifically trained but make a recommendation which is not evidence based.

    I used to work with a guy who used the line, “I’m a doctor. You can trust me (luv).”

    They found out eventually he was-but not a medical one! Can be a problem when not checking the evidence first.

  7. Oh well. In that case lets ban medicine altogether on the argument based by these 143 health professionals.
    Let ban chemotherapeutic drugs. These are known to cause secondary cancer, liver and kidney toxicity, infertility, and disruption of reproductive hormone.s. These are given to human directly by ingestion and injection. Compare to the same health risks allegedly associated with fracking by the 143 health professionals, which is still not proven.
    Let ban all surgical procedures because it has 10% chances of fatal complications with hosptal infection. Compare to the less than 0.03% of alleged health risks associated with fracking.
    Please note of the key words “cause and effect” and compare them to the allegedly “associated risks” that are reported in these studies.

    Scaremongering and exaggeration by these health professionals without a serious probability of risk analysis doesn’t do their causes any favours.

    • Not quite true TW. There have been numerous peer reviewed studies in the US and Canada and many of these by leading public health institutions that show increased health impacts correlated to the time and proximity to shale development. but we are told to disregard these because the fracking didn’t take place within the U.K. The fact some of these are linked to common factors such as air pollution makes one question just how much can these findings be disregarded. Hundreds of Doctors in Pennsylvania called for a moratorium on fracking, similar concerns raised in Canada. We know for a fact air pollution in the U.K. causes complications in pregnancy, asthma, heart and lung disease amongst other complications as well as thousands of premature deaths every year. We also know fracking increases and worsens local air pollution from the government’s own 2015 report (withheld from the public until 2018) and from the work done by York University. Medical experts are concerned with health and of course there are risks to be weighed up and balance to be struck. But taking the possible risks to have chemotherapy when facing a life threatening disease is a personal choice and not the same as imposing an industry on communities, next to where people live and exposing them to pollutants that have negative health impacts.

  8. If UK fracking is not going to work, is uneconomic, will cause all sort of health problems immediately and longer term-WHY TRY AND STOP THE TESTING SHOWING THAT??

    Martin, are you suggesting that we should wait and see if people become ill before banning fracking?

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