The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has accused the government of ignoring the impact fracking could have on the value of farmers’ land, as it plans to go ahead with proposed measure to drill for shale gas beneath private properties without offering compensation.
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The government is facing angry farmers, concerned over the effects that the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing could have on their land, as fracking firms will soon not require the permission of landowners.
Fracking works by pumping a mixture of chemicals, sand and water into the ground in order to break shale rocks and release gas, but the process has been severely criticised for its potential environmental and health effects.
The government has recently announced it will ignore a public consultation in which 99% of respondents opposed to a proposed law to allow drilling on private land.
Landowners will not be given any compensation, as the government and the industry insist the owners would not even realise the drilling is taking place and would not be affected.
However, the NFU said it feared the value of farmland above fracking sites could be impacted because of the public’s perceptions of fracking.
Jonathan Scurlock, the NFU’s chief adviser on renewable energy and climate change said it looked like government and industry were “trying to brush rural economy concerns under the carpet”.
“I don’t think anyone can take support of agriculture and the rural economy for granted”, he said.
“If the approach chosen by government and the shale gas industry is only to negotiate with some nebulous community body, which certainly doesn’t guarantee landowners will get any kind of payment for giving up access under their land, that does just look like landowner interests being brushed aside”.
The NFU added the impact could be particularly severe for people with a mortgage on their land, while also fearing that consumers might turn their back on products grown on fracking site. Therefore, the union is asking for reassurance that the value of farmer’s land will not be slashed by fracking.
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change commented, “Of over half a century of oil and gas production in the UK, there has been no evidence that house prices have been impacted and there should be reason for this to change for shale gas”.
Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli