Campaigners blast ‘sham’ frack report

A shale gas rig at Preese Hall
A shale gas rig at Preese Hall
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Campaigners on the Fylde have blasted a report which urges fracking to start, providing safeguards are in place.

The Task Force on Shale Gas, led by former Labour MP Lord Chris Smith, has been looking at the controversial industry.

It has concluded that shale gas can be produced safely and usefully, and can help the UK with the transition to a renewable economy, provided the strictest environmental standards are in place.

But the group, which says it is independent but is funded by shale gas industry companies, has been blasted by opponents of fracking who say the process is polluting and will damage communities.

Lord Chris Smith, chairman of the Task Force on Shale Gas said: “Our conclusion from all the evidence we have gathered over the past year is clear.

“The risk from shale gas to the local environment or to public health is no greater than that associated with comparable industries provided, as with all industrial works, that operators follow best practice. The size of the UK industry’s impact will depend on its potential output.

“We recommend that a number of exploratory wells should be allowed to go ahead, under the very strict environmental safeguards that we have outlined in our previous reports, in order to establish a much clearer picture of where and how much recoverable gas there is in the UK.

“Only when we have a better understanding of how much gas could be recovered in the UK will the public be able to make an informed decision.”

But Barbara Richardson from the Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG), which is opposing a bid by Cuadrilla to drill and test frack near the village, said the report was a sham.

She said: “Having just returned from the climate change talks in Paris to then see this report from Lord Smith I am appalled. RAG want to disassociate themselves from this report. Lord Smith is still quoting us in his acknowledgements and we in no way support the conclusions of this report. In fact quite the opposite.

“We believe this is a sham set up to fool the general public. The fact that it is industry-funded says it all. Fracking is, and will remain, a dirty fossil fuel industry which poses significant risks to the environment and public health.

“Further it flies in the face of all that was agreed at Paris to reduce carbon emissions.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “The independent report also confirmed that shale gas can be undertaken safely and securely with the UK’s robust regulation and not be a risk to the public as with other industrial work.

“Cuadrilla already complies with all of the Task Force recommendations such as transparency and full disclosure of any chemicals used for exploration, baseline monitoring and the highest standards of well integrity.”