Fracking on a large scale has not yet happened in the UK. But, as we have seen from the Lancashire decision on 6th October, it is government policy to continue with its ‘all out for shale‘ approach. If we want to find out about the effects of fracking, the only sensible thing to do is to look at parts of the world where it has already happened. The results are extremely worrying. We are told that ‘it won’t be like that here’ – but no-one is able to explain how or why it will be any different. It seems we are expected simply to ‘trust the regulator’. However – the answers given by regulators at the drop-in events at Driffield and Malton (2016) were far from reassuring, and amounted to little more than platitudes.
The government’s own draft report (at first heavily redacted, then only published after being compelled to do so by the Information Commissioner) admitted that “Experience from the US indicates that leakage of waste fluids from the drilling and fracking processes has resulted in environmental damage.” (1)
A recent report into the effect of fracking on the water in Wyoming found that “there were dangerous levels of chemicals in the underground water supply used by the 230 residents of Pavillion…” and that “levels of benzine, a flammable liquid used in fuel, were 50 times above the allowable limit, while chemicals were dumped in unlined pits and cement barriers to protect groundwater were inadequate...” (2)
Why should we believe that this can’t happen here?