Fears Fylde fracking will affect wildlife

Pink footed geese'Courtesy of Fylde Bird Club
Pink footed geese'Courtesy of Fylde Bird Club
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Wildlife campaigners have warned poorly regulated fracking could change the landscape of the Fylde coast.

A report was today published by a collective of six different nature organisations highlighting their concerns about the controversial shale gas drilling process.

Among the issues raised are the possibility 60,000 pink footed geese, many of which live in the Ribble estuary, may leave Lancashire should fracking get under way.

The report, called Are We Fit to Frack?, was launched by the Angling Trust, the National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon and Trout Association, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Tim Melling, RSPB senior conservation officer for Northern England, said: “In Lancashire we are extremely concerned about the impact that fracking could have on the 60,000 pink footed geese, which spend the winter around the Ribble and Alt Estuaries.

“As these geese have traditionally been shot in large numbers, they are rather skittish and very prone to disturbance.

“If the farmland in West Lancashire where they feed were to be punctuated with numerous fracking wells, each with its own access road, there is a risk they may abandon this landscape. Consequently, the extraction of shale gas could have a serious impact on this internationally important bird population.”

Martin Spray, chief executive of WWT, said: “A single frack can use more water than 1,000 people use in a year and if it goes wrong it could contaminate drinking water and ruin wetland habitats. That’s a big burden on communities and it’s a risk we want managed.”

The controversial fracking process involves hydraulically fracturing rock deep underground and pumping the earth with water and chemicals to extract shale gas.

Opponents to the process say the water supply could become polluted as a result.

Both the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil and the Environment Agency recently told The Gazette existing regulation, which does not exist overseas, will ensure such environmental concerns are

adequately addressed.

But Tina Rothery, from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, added: “It’s long been a concern for wildlife as well as livestock.

“The threat to air and water affects living creatures,

including pets.”

Energy firm Cuadrilla has carried out exploratory drilling on the Fylde is planning potential exploration in Clifton.

Last month it also announced plans to explore sites at Wharles and farmland near Little Plumpton.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have had

constructive meetings with many of these wildlife groups in the past and will continue to do so.

“We share their commitment to protecting the local environment, and look forward to continuing those discussions as our exploration work continues.”