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 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.”