We all enjoy the sight and sound of our special wildlife in East Yorkshire, whether orchids on The Wolds, barn owls hunting along the roadside, marbled white butterflies on chalk slopes, skylarks singing or brown hares in our fields.
And then there is Europe’s most northerly chalk-stream aquifer, a unique ecological environment, running from the Wolds into the Hull Valley, and on to The Humber. How might fracking affect all this?
On 14th October 2016, The Guardian On-line reported that scientists have found that 65.3% of the UK sites licensed for fracking contain at least an average, and often a very much above average, diversity of wildlife. This finding is the outcome of research at Reading University covering some 5,500 species, accessing volunteer records compiled between 1970 and 2013. See the report here.
It is unacceptable to place these sites at risk when the State of Nature Report (published on the 14th September 2016) has revealed that 56% of UK species are currently in decline. More so given that the report ranks the UK 189th in a list of 218 countries on the Biodiversity Intactness Index, a league table of how well countries are conserving species across the world. See:
An example of the problem in the UK is provided by plans for fracking at Misson Springs in Nottinghamshire, where nesting long-eared owls are threatened on an SSSI just over 400 feet from two proposed wells. Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust have warned that planning permission, if granted, would breach a legal covenant allowing it to prevent “noisy, noxious or damaging activity” on the site.
Meanwhile the fracking zone of western North Dakota, containing up to 10,000 active oil wells, has seen a drop in bird density of 33% within 875 feet of single-bore fracking sites, as reported by the Audubon Society on the 29th October 2015.
We sometimes take our wildlife for granted, but what would it be like across the Wolds if our flora and fauna were to be lost, replaced by an industrial landscape?
In East Yorkshire we are currently recording wildlife in the areas licensed for drilling to ensure that our special wildlife is not overlooked when companies apply for planning permission. If you can help, please go to “What Can We Do?”