£8m research into fracking effects is 'too late' say protesters

Protesters at the Preston New Road fracking site
Protesters at the Preston New Road fracking site
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An announcement of an £8m research project into the effects of fracking has been criticised as too late by Fylde campaigners.

The Natural Environment Research Council has been given the public money and will team up with the Economic and Social Research Council to commission the research later this year.

It said it will see researchers making independent studies of the effect of fracking on the environment and its socio-economic impacts.

Researchers will be able to make use of the £31m UK Geoenergy Observatories infrastructure programme announced in April which will see two underground observation networks established, one likely to be linked to shale gas extraction in Cheshire and another for geothermal energy study in Scotland.

More details will be given in September and a meeting will be held on October 4.

Claire Stephenson from Frack Free Lancashire said:“It seems rather late in the day to be throwing research money into environmental and socio-economic impacts of unconventional gas exploration.

“Surely this research should have been implemented prior to handing out PEDL licenses across the UK? Community health and drinking water integrity is a monumental factor in fracking, yet it has been virtually ignored by Public Health England and the government, as they choose to rely on industry-funded and outdated research for facts.

“Public acceptance of fracking is at an all-time low, according to the Government’s own figures, with just a paltry 19 per cent in favour. This will not change, no matter how they try to fudge figures to benefit the oil and gas industry.”

Elizabeth Garratt from the NERC said the study would be independent of the industry’s own monitoring.

She said: “Later this year NERC will ask researchers to submit research proposals which aim to understand and investigate the environmental and socio-economic impacts.

“As the purpose is to create an independent evidence base, these will have to involve independent measurements taken by the researchers.”