Fracking in Lancashire - Public Concerns are Insignificant says Government Minister

Fracking in Lancashire - Public Concerns are Insignificant says Government Minister

Despite refusal of planning permission from Lancashire County Council, public concerns and increasing worries on the dangers of fracking, the government has decided to go ahead and allow fracking in Lancashire.

In response to the appeal lodged by Cuadrilla, the Secretary of State Sajid Javid appointed a government inspector who provided him with the report that would justify his decision to support the appeal.

Fracking in Lancashire Concerns Ignored

Sajid Javid’s decisions show that the concerns of residents, the public and various action groups are of little importance when compared with the potential for economic benefit of fracking.

Issues such as pollution, water and air contamination, increased noise, seismic activity, degradation of the landscape, safety of the public, traffic issues and falling house prices were put forward and dismissed by the Government Minister for Communities and Local Government.

Visual Impact of Fracking on Lancashire Landscape

The government minister does accept that “the landscape does have some value at local level” and the site “displays a number of positive characteristics” making it a “valued landscape.”

“Although there are landscape impacts that would cause demonstrable harm which cannot be eliminated, they have been reduced to an acceptable level,” says Secretary of State Sajid Javid.

Without describing what an acceptable level of demonstrable harm to the landscape would look like, it is suggested that fracking firm Cuadrilla will conform to this during the process of industrialising the countryside.

Sajid Javid agrees with the inspector that “there would be some significant adverse visual impacts, but that only a low number of residential receptors would experience effects of that magnitude” (in this case Sajid Javid uses "residential receptors" in place of the more commonly used term "human beings").

So basically it’s going to be bad news for people living in the area, but as it’s a rural community there simply aren’t enough people affected by it to make any difference to their decision making.

frackingmap01Damage to Local Businesses due to Fracking in Lancashire

Sajid Javid states, “there is likely to be some degree of economic disbenefit to local businesses in close proximity to the site, but any such impacts would be localised and of relatively short duration.”

So thankfully the negative effects are only happening to rural communities in Lancashire and six years is apparently not worth kicking up a fuss about.

He considers that “the protection of private interests such as house prices and insurance are factors to which no weight should be attributed.”

This means the government have listened to and understood concerns about falling house prices but have since decided that this makes absolutely no difference to the argument and these concerns will ultimately be ignored in the decision-making process. In areas where fracking licences have been granted house prices have already fallen by as much as 30%.

Health Risks Associated with Fracking in Lancashire

The risk to the health of residents in areas around fracking sites is another side to the argument that should be given “little or no weight”, according to the secretary of state, whereas “the national need for shale gas exploration is a factor of great weight.”

From these statements it is clear how the government can stack the odds in its own favour, attributing little or no weight to considerations such as health, the environment or local economy, whilst putting a great amount of “weight” in the argument for the national economic benefit of fracking.

In order to alleviate our concerns the government minister claims there will be “No impacts arising from exposure to air and water pollutants”, “all potential impacts on health and wellbeing associated with the projects would be reduced to an acceptable level,” and “all pathways that could potentially impact upon human health would be monitored and appropriately controlled, and therefore these concerns carry little weight in the planning balance.”

Secretary of State Sajid Javid also agrees with the Inspector’s conclusions that “a baseline health survey of local residents would not be necessary, or relevant, and that it would not be reasonable to impose it.”

Of course if a health survey was carried out before the fracking occurred then this would provide a source of very incriminating evidence if it could be proven that health problems have increased as a result of fracking in Lancashire, so definitely won’t be needing that then – so irrelevant!

Sajid Javid Ignores the Experts on Fracking in Lancashire

In contrast to the rosy picture painted by Sajid Javid, others have found that there are severe health risks associated with fracking. Those that say fracking is dangerous include universities of Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Edinburgh, the Australian Medical Association and a raft of scientists and doctors.

Fracking has been banned on the grounds of health concerns in New York, Maryland, California, Victoria, Australia, Scotland, France, Germany, Holland and Bulgaria.

Some of the health problems linked to fracking include increased risk of cancer, birth defects, skin, eye, kidney, respiratory and nervous system problems caused by the chemicals used, as well as scarring of the lungs and nosebleeds from the amount of sand that is released into the air.

On the other hand, Wendy McKay, the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State concludes that: “Very little weight can or should be given to such concerns. The public anxiety here, and any stress related health effects, can only ultimately be dispersed by allowing the development and then showing it can be undertaken completely safely.”

Earthquakes Linked to Fracking

earthquake-damage-groundThe Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that “the risk of induced seismicity would be reduced to a minimum and an acceptable level.” He also believes that “no material adverse impacts would arise as a result of vibration associated with the projects.”

To put this into context, the last time Cuadrilla had a go at fracking in Lancashire they caused two earthquakes in Blackpool and several months later they admitted that they were responsible. The sites had to be abandoned due to the earthquakes and fracking was temporarily banned in the UK as a result.

Following on from this Cuadrilla have since been awarded several licences to start fracking in Lancashire again. Although admitting that the tremors were caused by the fracturing process, Cuadrilla claims that it probably won’t happen again at other sites.

In Ohio there were 77 earthquakes caused by fracking in one month and in Groningen, Holland there have been literally thousands of man-made earthquakes proven to be a result of the extraction process, prompting billions of pounds of damages claims as homes, schools and businesses crumble to the ground following several years of fracking.

Treatment of contaminated waste fluids from fracking in Lancashire

Sajid Javid agrees with the inspector that “it would not be necessary or reasonable to impose a condition requiring the developer to provide Lancashire County Council with information identifying the available permitted off-site waste treatment facilities.”

Lancashire County Council may argue that it is not entirely unreasonable to ask where all the contaminated toxic waste is going to be sent.

The Secretary of State asserts that “all impacts associated with the production of flowback fluids by the projects would be reduced to an acceptable level.”

This means that there will be some impact to the environment due to the contaminated waste flowing back into the water supply, however it has been deemed that this would be an acceptable level of contamination.

Fracking in Lancashire Human Rights Violations

In the inspector’s report Sajid Javid states that, “the interference with the human rights of individuals including children would be proportionate, in accordance with the law and necessary in the interest of the economic well-being of the country.”

So in terms of having our human rights interfered with, the people of Lancashire will have to take a hit for the team.

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Elliot Margison

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