Fylde anti-frackers’ anger at ‘censored report’

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Fylde residents have written to their MP to protest about a DEFRA report on fracking which has been heavily censored for the public.

It comes as the Government’s Infrastructure Bill, which features a new strategic approach for the recovery of oil and gas reserves, including streamlined access to onshore oil and gas reserves , for example when fracking for shale gas, is being examined this week by a Public Bill Committee.

The bill will be examined to see if amendments are needed before it goes back to MPs for a final reading in the next few weeks..

Cuadrilla is seeking to drill, frack, and test gas flows, with associated separate applications for environmental monitoring, at two sites at Preston New Road at Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood.

Lancashire County Council will rule on two planning applications on January 31.

The residents, members of anti-fracking groups concerned about the effects shale gas industry would have on the environment and their homes on the Fylde, say that no-one can be expected to discuss the issue properly when the full details have been removed (or redacted) by the Government from such a significant report as Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts.

A letter published with the report said: “There is a strong public interest in withholding the information because it is important that officials can consider implications of potential impacts and scenarios around the development of the shale gas industry and to develop options without the risk that disclosure of early thinking could close down discussion.”

Patricia Davies of the Preston New Road Action Group said: “The Defra report on fracking has more than 60 
redactions in it.

“Clearly there is a lot of important information that is being withheld from the public.

“If there is nothing to hide then why has this report been censored so much?.

“I have asked our MP Mark Menzies to ask Mr Cameron for the full uncensored report, this needs to be available to the people of Lancashire prior to any planning application on fracking being considered.

“Most of the redacted areas seem to be around the value of house prices. No MP who wishes to protect his electorate should vote this week in favour of something where he is being denied the full information to make an informed decision.”

Barbara Richardson from the Roseacre Awareness Group said: “The report has 63 redacted sections which are mainly about the impact 
on peoples properties, economic benefits, investment and job creation, local 
services and social impacts.

“In fact, so much of the report is redacted it does not make any overall sense and we are certain there are serious detrimental impacts which are effectively being hidden.

“Property prices have already been affected in Roseacre despite what Cuadrilla keeps saying. Many residents are extremely stressed and anxious over this issue.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I was aware of this Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) discussion document from last March.

“I share some of the concerns local residents have over shale gas and have, of course, taken their request for a copy of the unredacted version of this document to the Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss MP.”

Meanwhile reacting to a proposed Labour amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which would ban fracking from groundwater source protection zones, Friends of the Earth’s Donna Hume said: “Labour’s call for a ban on fracking near aquifers and for other safeguards is the right one – it is basic common sense to not risk Britain’s drinking water.”

However a Cuadrilla spokesman said: “For our proposed exploration sites in Lancashire there is no evidence of any risk whatsoever to the contamination of drinking water.”