Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts [Draft]

UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
http://bit.ly/1S656Tt

[The Ecologist] House prices could fall 7% near fracking rigs, according to the ‘secret’ Defra report on fracking in rural areas, only published in full after a legal battle, while leakage of waste water could damage human health and contaminate food.

Fracking operations to extract shale gas in Britain could cause nearby house prices to fall by up to 7% and create a risk of environmental damage, according to a government report that has been published in full for the first time.

Entitled Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) document was released on Wednesday after a freedom of information battle…

The report was first published last year in a heavily redacted form under freedom of information rules, prompting the Green MP, Caroline Lucas, to accuse the government of censorship and of trying to hide the negative impacts of fracking.

Two weeks ago the information commissioner’s office ruled that the environment department must release the report unredacted.

A crucial time for the UK’s fracking industry

The findings of the study come at a crucial time for the government and shale industry, just two days after the surprise rejection by Lancashire county council of what would have been the biggest round of fracking so far.

Previously omitted sections reveal that:

  • House prices near fracking wells were likely to fall, and there was a potential reduction of up to 7% in property values within a mile of wells.
  • Properties within a one- to five-mile radius of fracking sites may incur additional insurance costs.
  • Leakage of waste fluids from fracking processes has resulted in environmental damage in the US.
  • Even if contaminated surface water did not directly impact on drinking-water supplies, fracking could affect human health indirectly through consumption of contaminated wildlife, livestock or agricultural products. It concluded that the UK regulatory regime was “likely to be more robust” but the impact on water-resource availability, aquatic habitats and ecosystems, and water quality was “uncertain”.

The report also spelled out possible benefits of fracking, such as generating jobs and economic growth, as well as providing greater energy security for the UK. Rents may also increase due to additional demand from fracking-site workers, it suggested…

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