A newly released government report has admitted that houses close to fracking operations in the UK could see their value fall by up to 7% and the process could cause environmental damage.
The report was published in full for the first time this week after a decision by data watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office forced the government to publish the unredacted report. The government has stated the paper is “not analytically robust” and includes “early, often vague, assumptions which are not supported by appropriate evidence”.
The internal document states that houses prices close to fracking sites could fall by up to 7%. In addition properties located within five miles could face increased insurance cost in order to cover losses in the event of an explosion.
It also notes that in the US, where the fracking industry is much larger, leakage of waste fluids have damaged the environment, including contaminating surface water.
Fracking in the UK has been a fiercely debated subject. Supporters of the process, including the Conservative government, argue it can improve energy security and act as a transition fuel in the move away from fossil fuels towards renewables. However, those opposing the extraction method state fracking has been linked to health issues, environmental degradation, methane leaks and water contamination.
Despite polls suggesting the public generally has a negative view of fracking the current government has pushed ahead with plans. The Green Party recently labelled government plans to ‘fast-track’ fracking as “reckless”, the plans would mean that prior to test drilling fracking companies would not have to consult with local residents or conduct a full environmental audit
Commenting on the evidence gathered in the report, Daisy Sands, Greenpeace UK energy and climate change campaigner, said, “This report give the lie the shale lobby and ministers’ claim that there’s no evidence of negative impacts from fracking whilst questioning many of the arguments in favour of it. It’s a complete vindication of Lancashire County Council’s decision to reject Cuadrilla’s bid to frack in their region, and provides other councils with compelling reasons to do the same.”
Greenpeace is calling on the government to follow the lead of New York state and permanently ban fracking, arguing that the “only sensible course of action” is to declare a fracking moratorium.
Environmental Earth also supports putting fracking on hold, noting that Wales and Scotland have already done so.
Energy campaigner at the organisation, Tony Bosworth added, “Businesses could also suffer as [the report] reveals that fracking threatens agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation businesses through increased industrialisation of previously tranquil and pristine rural areas.”
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