ANTI-fracking campaigners have blasted a Government report, which concludes the controversial practice is safe, as “completely inadequate”.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) believes safety measures can be implemented to reduce the risk of Cuadrilla Resources’ operation causing earthquakes – but activists have said they are not reassured as the inquiry had only looked at the single issue.
Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party, said the Government was taking an “insane gamble” with people’s lives and is calling for a more thorough investigation into the impact of fracking.
He added: “Any decision to include fracking techniques into the UK’s energy policy must only be made on the basis of a thorough and well-established understanding of all the risks to the public and the countryside, not just those related to earth tremors.
“The Government is taking an insane gamble with the lives of local people.
“If we don’t have the knowledge to fully understand all the affects now, and the industry is allowed to continue and expand, then it could be too late before the Government finally confronts the industry.”
Mr Mitchell’s view is echoed by national charity Friends of the Earth. Executive director Andy Atkins said: “Earth tremors aren’t the only risks associated with fracking – it’s also been linked to air and water pollution and produces gas that causes climate change.
“There should be a full scientific assessment of all the impacts of fracking – a short consultation on one of the problems is completely inadequate.”
Cuadrilla currently has sites locally in Weeton – where fracking was taking place when two earthquakes hit last year – Singleton and Westby, but hopes to expand across the Fylde.
Among the DECC’s recommendations is a traffic light system to alert Cuadrilla to tremors over magnitude 0.5, but Poulton resident John Bailie, who has held meetings for those concerned about fracking, added: “I just can’t see any confidence in a traffic light system whereby you feel a bit of a tremor and switch off – what guarantee is there that tremor doesn’t continue?”
But Singleton Coun Maxine Chew, who represents those living near the village’s Grange Road site, said she was pleased by the Government’s investigation.
She’s warned against “scare-mongering” by anti-gas campaigners and added: “I’m pleased Cuadrilla are happy to comply with what the Government are suggesting to make sure the process is as safe as possible.
“If they apply the traffic light system so we don’t get the seismic movements we’ve had before that will be good.”
Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre councils have also welcomed the recommendations, and speaking on behalf of the three authorities Blackpool leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “There is no denying the potential of shale gas is enormous and could be worth many millions to the Fylde coast economy over the next 30 years which has to be welcomed given the economic climate.
“The Fylde coast has real potential to become a hub for the energy market in the UK thanks not only to shale gas exploration, but also the growth in the number of offshore windfarms in the next few years.”