New research reveals stress from living near UK shale gas sites

pnr 190831 Refracktion 4

Campaigners at rally outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site, 31 August 2019. Photo: Refracktion

People living near three shale gas sites in England reported increased levels of stress, a new study has found.

The research, which studied communities in Lancashire, Cheshire and North Yorkshire, found people experienced anxiety, sleep disturbance, high levels of anger and exhaustion.

One in seven people surveyed for the research experienced levels of distress high enough to indicate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the authors said.

They recommended that the impact of stress on communities should be taken into account when decisions were made about shale gas sites. Arrangements to detect and mitigate stress-related problems should also be in place

A residents’ group in Lancashire, where Cuadrilla fracked in 2018 and 2019, welcomed that the report had recognised “what we have been feeling and experiencing over the last six years”.

“Long-last effects”

The study, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, used surveys, interviews and observation in communities living near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, the IGas site at Ellesmere Port and Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site in Ryedale. The research was carried out before fracking began at Preston New Road.

The authors, from universities in Newcastle, London and Oklahoma, said 40% of people who took part in a survey had never experienced shale gas related stress. But 14% scored high enough on a stress index to indicate PTSD.

The evidence suggested that stress had long-lasting effects on opponents, supporters and people not directly involved in campaigning about the industry.

The authors said:

“Our findings suggest that there was a sizeable group of local residents who experienced stress as a result of planned or actual gas developments in their area.

“The levels of stress for some of those residents were very high, as some even mentioned post-traumatic stress disorder to describe the impacts hydraulic fracturing has had on their lives.”

Follow-up interviews revealed that stress and anxiety intensified as shale gas activities progressed.

The time when shale gas developments were being planned was perceived as a stressful event, the authors said. It was seen as “a harbinger for harm to themselves and their community”. The authors said:

“Importantly residents reported that stress was not only a reaction to development, but a consequence of interacting with industry and decision makers.”

Some people described shale gas development as a threat, a “dark, dirty cloud” hanging over families, intruding on lives.

Some stopped campaigning on the issue because they said the impact on their health was “excessive”. Others told researchers they “could not withdraw from their activism because they felt too strongly about their views”.

Some felt under constant pressure to research, write and organise. One opponent told researchers:

“I have been up at 4 am writing reports and sending stuff in the middle of the night because I thought that I needed to have that done.”

A supporter in North Yorkshire said:

“It has taken over my life. I work more than any 40 hour a week on this, particularly at the height of it all. I don’t like being beaten. I like fairness and I like the truth. And when those are not happening, I will fight against it, what they are doing.”

In some communities, people avoided talking about shale gas because “it was perceived as too controversial”.  One resident from Kirby Misperton told researchers:

“It really isn’t something that you talk to somebody in the village . . . we just don’t talk about it because it was just too heated a discussion.”

The authors said their findings was consistent with research in communities living near US shale gas sites.

A spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group said:

“It is good that what we have been feeling and experiencing over the last six years has been recognised in the conclusions of this report. We trust that the findings will be taken on-board by the planning authorities.

“For local residents at Preston New Road the stress levels have not fully dropped even six years on, as even though no fracking is currently taking place, while the site is still there, there is always the worry about what might happen next.”

53 replies »

  1. One in seven people surveyed for the research experienced levels of distress high enough to indicate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the authors said.

    The irony of this article is the constant lies & misrepresentations about non fracking companies fracking causing stresses.

    The first port of call is to regulate all media comments & make all protestors be registered to group who accept responsibility for there members – there actions.
    With proper regulation of protestors at this point we may see less of the aforementioned stresses.

    With publications like drill or drop being as biased as they are & having no interest in how best the UK & it’s economy transits to a greener future for all.

    The reality is that the alternatives would be far more stressful for the majority of UK residents & taxpayers.

    But I suppose we should not stop that getting in the way of another bias article that Drill or drop is famous for.

    • M.H .

      Perhaps if you could spell correctly your comments would be taken more seriously,
      In the meantime please do one!

      • Peter I am touched by the strength of your feeling at my post.

        Please mind your stress levels as I am sure that the truth will not be popular spelt correctly or not.

        But regulation of the unregulated in the oil & gas debate would definitely level the playing field a little.

        I am sure that following the £80,000 fine & costs against Greenpeace & there militant brigade more will follow!

        • MH,

          Everyone who lives around proposed and operating frack sites who has investigated the process will be subject to major stress due to their knowledge of threats they are under.

          Not helped by industry stooges and apologists continuing to promote their mendacious strategies forward despite Government statements that fracking is basically finished in the UK.

          • Peter-when your buddies try and change the definition of knowledge to justify the value of some comments, perhaps not the path to tread? Perhaps real knowledge produces less stress? Just an idea. Cleaned up all that selenium yet? LOL. No, just dismiss as stooges, apologists with mendacious strategies. Or, investors, or those who care nothing about the environment. Well, posting only on my behalf, none of those, Peter.

            Government statements are accurate for varying lengths of time. You know that. You have recently commented upon that very “danger”, in an attempt to keep the “troops” excited.

            When you end up debating opposite views with yourself as an excuse to insult others, you are rather obviously showing how stress is created. There is no need for it, although it may be a way for some to destress themselves, but I can think of many better ways.

            This bit of research appears to have shed a light into some corners rather well.

          • Peter

            Ruth at Drill or drop again doing another biased article against the oil & gas sector.

            The reality is anyone going against a planning permission will become stressed as they are out of there comfort zone.

            The fact is the more people become anxious the more stressed they become especially with the constant of pressure groups like XR & frack free peddling the lies that fracking will occur by conventional oil operators when there is no intention.

            Unfortunately this is not only the case covering the oil & gas sector it could just as easily apply to anyone who’s neighbour wants to put an extension on there house that they don’t want or music being played next door that you don’t like or want. Unfortunately there are permitted or allowablem developments or a levels of noise which is allowed within the law. It is then up to the individual if they can live with it or if they choose they have the free will to move elsewhere if they choose. This obviously takes a period of adjustment all.

            The medical profession would call it the fight or flight response!

  2. Why are the majority of protesters angry?, Survey to be carried out: (including anarchists, vandals and keyboard warriors. eh pkr? or if you cannot argue correctly attack the spelling of someone who disagrees with you, are you stressed?

    Let’s say power cuts and lack of energy supply as a major stress leader, the privilege us brits have in immeasurable compared to our neighbours in Asia and Africa!
    Stress is brought on, some getting stressed by a development happening many miles away!

    I’d have to ask the credibility of the authors, or was this just an online survey, (one akin to nectar card multiple choice tick box exercise?)

      • JH.
        The full details of of those surveyed are included in the report.
        Please read and amend your comment.

        Mr Moderator please could also fact check this comment by JH and act appropriately.

        Thank you.

        • Getting stressed about details and facts Peter? There are individuals in three caravans and one tent near my home deliberately trying to cause stress within the local community by ignoring certain details and facts whilst claiming acid fracking is taking place. Perhaps you could also have a word there?

      • Hi John
        The methodology for collecting evidence is on pages 5 and 6 of the report.

        First, there were qualitative interviews with residents and other stakeholders, including community and local government leaders, farmers, business owners, protestors and police officers.

        This was followed by a survey posted to 1136 addresses within postcode areas close to Preston New Road. There was a 19% response rate, and the report writers claim that, on the whole, they had a representative sample in terms of gender (slightly more women), age distribution (slightly older) and education level (more university-educated).

        • Paul

          Personally I don’t find that a 19% response rate is a representative sample!

          In my opinion it means that 80% have not responded. This could well be because they were not bothered by what was going on & getting on with there own lives & letting the government make the necessary decisions as they are the 1st government in the world to have set a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

          These figures actually suggest that the majority of people want the powers that be to make the decisions that are necessary to run the country so working people can have the power & transport & a well run economy get with life & pay there bills.

          We have all witnessed what happened to the disruptive XR brigade who caused disruption on the London underground by climbing on top of the tube trains.

          Yes they were pulled down by normal people wanting to get to work & get on with there lives.

          The government has a plan to bring net zero carbon emissions by 2050 which obviously contains using UK produced onshore oil & gas & carbon capture & home insulation for green homes & I’m sure many other schemes which it has calculated will bring us to a net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to deal with the climate emergency.

          The fact is that some people won’t like what or how it will be done or where what is done, but done it will be as that is the governments aim & they have overall control through there departments of state & local authorities.

          The sooner they are able to get on with it without all the hold ups the sooner it will be achieved as all the parts together will enable the other parts.

          One of the realities about alternative energy creation is that wind turbines produce high levels of green house gases that take a long time to break down & are the dirty little secret of the alternative energy sources. It is true that SF6 has between 22,000 and 23,500 times higher global warming potential than CO 2 when taken over a 100-year perspective. Because it’s so stable, the gas has an estimated lifetime of up to 3,200 years. Considered together, these facts make SF 6 the most potent chemically reactive
          greenhouse gas investigated by the IPCC,” says NTNU Professor Francesco Cherubini.

          The more wind turbines that are put into place the higher the greenhouse gas levels will become & how many wind turbines do you think that would be needed to bring enough power to run the UK economy & domestic use & what effect that would have on greenhouse gases?

          Obviously this is going to need a proper transition period in which home produced oil & gas will be necessary. For a solution there is not a one stop shop & we can not just exist on foreign imports oil & gas imports especially with falling production from the North Sea.

          • MH

            No wonder the antis were so eager to accept non locals to bolster their ranks, if a 19% response is all that can be obtained from the locals! (Perhaps the other 80% were just not the sort of individuals to be stressed to fill out surveys.)

            And, yet, it is seen time after time on DoD, if you are not a local you have no right to comment!

            There is history to this, as well. I recall the discussions about the routine payments to local residents that were going to be rejected as every local was so against the tests at PNR. Hmm. I recall most were accepted.

          • MH,
            The target year 2050 is selected simply because all politicians currently active will be long gone by then.
            Meaning by constant reference to 2050 their inactivity in the meantime will be excused as ‘working towards 2050.
            Make the target date for completed first step actions 2021 and they would have to deliver change immediately.
            First step obviously
            (Except site cleanups and restoration )

            • Peter K Roberts

              Is that more [edited by moderator] misrepresentation there is no fracking with UKOG.

              The current government policy on fracking is quite clear even though it does not affect UKOG.

    • It doesn’t help that Democracy has been destroyed here in the UK in the name of greed.
      And the good name of Lancashire Constabulary and Lancashire County Council has also been destroyed within the mindset of those of us who stood up for our Communities against their facilitation of the fracking industry.

    • Eli-Goth.

      There you go again making baseless allegations.

      We’re actually angry at the package [edited by moderator[] told by the Oil and Gas industry that persuaded the UK Government that fracking was a worthwhile project that would proceed safely. Anx the stupidity and greed of the UK Government [edited by moderator]

      • It was the protestors who were trying to destroy democracy. The UK government was democratically elected by the UK population and they took the decision to support hydraulic fracturing – that’s democracy – whereas using force to try and prevent an entirely legal activity sanctioned by the UK government is not democracy.

        • Simon,
          Exactly when was ‘force’ used during this effective awareness programme of peaceful demonstrations, signage and legal actions?
          Except by the Constabulary of course!

          • Using tactics such as lock-ons and slow walks is using force to prevent businesses going about their totally legal activities. If the activities of the protesters was legal there wouldn’t have been so many prosecutions.

  3. Interesting, isn’t it?

    I have often been labelled by antis as “angry” whilst I have been quite calm and happy. Greta encourages everyone to be angry and panic. The media-including DoD-do their bit to excite people about everyday things such as wheel washing (check your local building site!) I even recall an “angry/stressed” comment about a diesel tank on an exploration site, and it had to be pointed out that is what machinery requires to function!

    There are those who use this site in a deliberate attempt to encourage anger and anxiety, and get even more agitated when the fake information they post is identified. Radio 5 demonstrated how it is done-with the media themselves doing the explanation! So, what resulted? The antis became angry and stressed at Radio 5! Look at XRs activities in London. A deliberate attempt to make others angry and stressed.

    There is a very large “industry” trying to make people stressed and angry. The Internet has taken it to a whole new level. You only have to look at the news today about countries doing their bit. (“News”-was that not OBVIOUS at the time? Some, at the time, where content to be useful idiots to try and make people stressed and angry.)

    Perhaps if people just recognized that their stress is being encouraged, they would be better at controlling it? But, that would leave researchers in London, Newcastle and Oklahoma a little stressed finding something else to do with their funding!

    Yep, a very large industry.

    But, sun is shining, cricket is starting, pubs are open, had my haircut, life is good. The alternative is a lot worse.

  4. [Martin ]Collyer, the world needs to move towards green energy. Oil and gas driling – in particular the scraping the barrel tight varieties we are talking about – produce a lot of methane which is culpable for a lot of our environmental problems. it cannot be a “bridge” fuel. The arctic ice is melting and sea levels rising. Look at the coast of Florida and all the legal fighting going on there where people who live there oppose furhter on or off shore drilling. They were exposed to Deepwater Horizon and its aftermath. Your comments are merely specious. You do not appear to care about future generations.

    • CJR – writing the words “the world needs to move to green energy” is very easy when you’re not one of those tasked with developing the technology to make it happen. When those technologies are developed, the difficult part of getting the public to agree to pay the costs begins.

    • CJR

      If the green energy tecnology that currently operates was developed to power the UK or the world it would be far more devastating for the he environment than oil & gas.

      Do your homework don’t just listen to those who have a vested interest!

  5. Don’t get stressed, CJR.

    Ahh, future generations! I have no contact with the young? Oh yes, I do, CJR, and I was-once. (Please try something a bit more profound than the XR focused grouped suggestion.)

    Cutting back on methane levels to protect future generations??

    So, the (almost) extinction of the buffalo in N. America should be reworked now into a modern version of history, that it was all about caring for future generations?

    Killing young kids in the DRC scrabbling for cobalt is protecting future generations?

    Deep ocean mining for the resources that the young want in increasing volumes is protecting future generations, just because one young kid is sailing over same oceans?

    If you want to protect future generations the only way to do it is to stop population growth. Good luck with that. Await the lockdown baby boom. Without that, everything else is a sticking plaster upon the backside of an elephant. You can stress at others as much as you like, and feel you can make a difference by doing so, but you don’t do anything other than justify yourself-and you might just find that others do quite a lot caring about future generations, but in their way, not yours. Best avoid that, because whilst true it might undermine your moral high ground.

    12 million jobs in USA rely upon the oil/gas industry. Do you really think that will be suddenly stopped, even if there had been no Covid-19? Even if it was, then oil/gas consumption in USA would still continue, and $billions extra would be spent on protecting overseas sources and body bags would return to USA. Not a vote winner, except for a few zealots.

    By the way, the world is moving to green energy. At a pace that is dictated by the acceptance of the consumer. Politicians know they can encourage but they can not dictate. An election was lost in Australia because a mistake was made in that respect. Yes, people will buy a product if it is not too expensive and it fulfills their needs. Try forcing expensive products that don’t fulfill people’s needs and you will just end up with people pontificating about the evils of fracking but maintaining the comfort of their 3 litre diesel BMWs.

    If you believe that politicians can dictate such things, try voting in a party that would do that. Oh, it was recently tried in the UK. Not exactly a raging success, was it!?

  6. Judging from social media, the same people who were stressed about fracking are also very stressed about 5G and vaccines. It seems that stress levels about fracking are inversely proportional to one’s knowledge about science.

    • SH,
      Our knowledge was adequate to warn of earthquake damage being caused by Cuadrilla’s fracking activities at Preston New Road!
      Unlike Egan and the Gold Standard Monitors who said repeatedly the TLS of monitoring would prevent that happening!

      Why are you lot so noisy at the moment, by the way?
      Are you back in the office?

      • Peter – the only earthquake damage was in the imagination of the antis.

        My office at the moment is my yacht and a very nice office it is!

  7. Simon-there are many individuals, such as the military, who have every reason to suffer stress issues.

    But, these days it would appear that if you claim to be stressed from anything within your life-or not-then you have an excuse to behave just as you wish ie. you are stressed therefore you are unable to control yourself, and the fault lies with what is causing the “stress”. Football “supporters” were adept at the issue in the past. Maybe the Roman Legions used the same logic, but still found they were decimated!

    My sympathy is with those who have serious stress issues and see the condition being devalued.

    Not the individuals who are “stressed” about the Barclay BROTHERS owning Third Energy-when they didn’t! Or whether shareholders would lose their money in INEOS!

    Not only science.

  8. Just let the anti’s buy shares to enrich themselves and let it be down. It’ll maybe take the stress and anger out of them!
    Hold-on, aren’t the majority of FTSE companies contributors of UK pensions?!? Retired protesters living a privileged life, while not understanding where their share related pension comes from…
    literally LMAO!!

  9. SH,
    Our knowledge was adequate to warn of earthquake damage being caused by Cuadrilla’s fracking activities at Preston New Road!
    Unlike Egan and the Gold Standard Monitors who said repeatedly the TLS of monitoring would prevent that happening!

    Why are you lot so noisy at the moment, by the way?
    Are you back in the office?

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