Church wades into fracking ‘morality’ row

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The Church of England in Lancashire has waded into the row over fracking, publishing a leaflet which questions whether the controversial practice risks damaging “God’s creation” for future generations.

Blackburn Diocese has published the leaflet, headlined “Fracking – opportunity or challenge?”.

It sets out for parishioners the arguments over the controversial practice in Lancashire, which has already been the site of test drilling.

It claims that talk of the money to be made “has lured landowners to sign or contemplate signing leases to drill on their land”.

“A relatively new technique to extract natural gas from previously unreachable depths is prompting a rush to drill, despite virtually no history as to its environmental impact,” the document says.

“Any consideration of the pros and cons of an issue like ‘fracking’ has to be viewed in the context of global climate change, which itself cannot be ignored by Christians, as it raises questions of justice, fairness, provision, stewardship and love for God, His Creation and His Creatures, including our global human neighbours.”

It adds: “The time we spend thinking, praying and acting now to protect our drinking water, and the rest of God’s glorious Creation cannot compare with the time succeeding generations could potentially spend trying to make good what will likely happen if we in the church remain uninformed and silent.”

Energy firm Cuadrilla has sites across the county, including in Westby and Singleton. Reports have suggested there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas in the county.

The UK’s first fracking, the process of injecting fluid deep underground to break shale rocks and release the gas within, was undertaken by Cuadrilla but was suspended after two minor tremors in Blackpool.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “The subject of fracking is a hugely complicated issue. It attracts a wide variety of scientific, academic, political, economic, environmental and indeed emotional responses from experts and others.

“While the Church of England does not have an official line in any of these particular aspects of the debate, it, together with other faith communities, does have an obligation, under God, to bring a different perspective into the debate.

“This stems from a sincere conviction to take seriously the challenges of caring for God’s fragile creation.

“To that end, the church believes it has a responsibility to inform its parishioners of these perspectives to enable them to reflect and respond accordingly.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said the firm would be meeting with Church of England representatives in Blackburn in the coming weeks.