Leading conservation groups join forces to challenge fracking rules

Thursday 13th March 2014

Otters drinking - credit Helen TaylorFracking could damage wildlife

Poorly regulated fracking risks harming threatened species and polluting our waterways, according to a report produced by the UK’s leading wildlife and countryside groups.

The report, Are We Fit to Frack?, was launched today by the Angling Trust, the National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon & Trout Association, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. It is supported by a cross party group of MPs including Zac Goldsmith, Alan Whitehead and Tessa Munt.

The report contains ten recommendations for making fracking safer as the Government continues its push to get companies to apply for licences to explore and drill for shale gas.

The recommendations are based on a full technical evidence report which has been peer reviewed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, one of the UK’s leading ecological research institutes.

The countryside groups are calling for all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones, for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the shale gas industry to pay the costs of its regulation and any pollution clean-ups.

The report highlights a lack of regulation around shale gas exploitation which could cause serious impacts for a range of threatened species including pink footed geese, salmon and barbastelle bats. It also raises serious concerns about the impact of drilling and water contamination on some of our most precious natural habitats such as chalk streams. These crystal clear waterways are known to anglers and wildlife-lovers as England’s coral reefs – 85% of the world’s chalk streams are found here.

Even wildlife in urban areas such as Birmingham and the Black Country could be threatened if water courses nearby are contaminated.

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“The Government’s dash for shale gas must not run ahead of our ability to effectively regulate, minimise or eliminate the serious risks fracking poses. This report clearly identifies a range of deficiencies which mean we’re not currently fit to frack without unacceptable risks to wildlife, special places and local communities across the country.”

The recommendations contained in the report are:

  1. Avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and water resources by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones.
  2.  Make Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)mandatory for shale gas extraction proposals.
  3. Require shale extraction companies to pay for a world-class regulatory regime.
  4. Prevent taxpayers from bearing the costs of accidental pollution.
  5. Make water companies statutory consultees in the planning process.
  6. Require all hydraulic fracturing operations to operate under a Groundwater Permit.
  7. Make sure the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for mine waste management are rigorously defined and regularly reviewed.
  8. Ensure full transparency of the shale gas industry and its environmental impact.
  9. Ensure monitoring and testing of shale gas operations is rigorous and independent.
  10. Minimise and monitor methane emissions.

The full report and press release are attached below.
 

Downloads

FilenameFile size
fracking_report_press_release_13032014.pdf304.18 KB
shale_gas_report.pdf2 MB
shale_gas_summary_low_res.pdf1.26 MB

Tagged with: Fracking, Wildlife trusts

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