Lancashire County Council should refuse applications for fracking at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood in light of further evidence of the unacceptable risks posed to local communities’ health and the environment, according to a letter from Dr David McCoy (1), Director of the medical charity Medact. The letter was sent toselect Lancashire County Councillors, Dr Sakthi Karunanithi (Director of Public Health at Lancashire County Council),Jo Turton (Chief Executive),Andrew Mullaney (Assistant Director Environment, Planning & Countryside) and Stuart Perigo (Head of Development Management)
Medact is a public health charity with a membership of around 900 doctors, nurses and health professionals. In the letter Dr McCoy warns that industrial-scale fracking would “pose unacceptable risks to the health and well-being of local residents.” The letter also warns LCC that the current system of regulation is not fit for purpose and that risks in Lancashire are “particularly high” due to the “level of seismic activity, population density and agricultural activity”.
The objection letter highlights that fracking is an inherently risky activity that will cause environmental pollution and “these various pollutants include carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, respiratory irritants and neurological, endocrine and haematological disrupters/toxins.” Many pollutants are known to have “toxic and harmful” properties while others have “not been adequately studied” and the “cocktail” effects are unknown.
In addition it points to the fact that fracking is incompatible with the urgent need for the UK to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Medact is currently writing a comprehensive and detailed report on the health implications of fracking which will be released in February.
Risks to health could occur due to the site characteristics including geology and proximity to local communities as well as the structural integrity of wells composition of fracking fluid. Impacts could also occur due to “noise pollution, heavy traffic, spoilage of the natural environment, and effects related to social and economic disruption”.
Pat Davies from Preston New Road Action group, said: “Health is a key concern to us as our community has a large number of elderly and vulnerable people within 1 km from the proposed frack site, and they need to be protected.
“The peer reviewed medical evidence from the US is compelling, carrying a clear message that fracking near peoples’ homes carries real health implications.
“Every day new evidence emerges of the dangers to health and risks of this industry. Lancashire County Council must carefully evaluate this evidence and conclude it simply isn’t worth risking peoples’ health for commercial profit.”
Barbara Richardson from Roseacre Awareness Group, said: “Roseacre Awareness Group represents over 100 residents some of whom live just 300 m from one of the proposed fracking sites.
“We are pleased a prestigious organisation such as Medact have recognised the dangers and, along with other prestigious health organisations such as Breast Cancer UK and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, are highlighting the inherent risks. Even LCC’s own Director of Public Health has made over 40 recommendations in his report to LCC.
“There are far too many risks to peoples’ health associated with fracking as emerging evidence from the US and other countries is proving – LCC must protect residents and reject these plans.”
Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “This latest objection, from a respected organisation of public health professionals, adds to the growing call for Lancashire County Council to refuse these risky fracking plans.
“With evidence of fracking’s harmful impacts on health, the environment and our climate – and the industry’s hype on the benefits amounting to hot air – it is clear fracking is the wrong solution for the Lancashire economy and communities and should be thrown out.”
Lancashire County Council is due to decide on the applications by Cuadrilla in January next year.
Notes to editors
Medact Objection letter was submitted on 12 December and is available to view here
2. A number of other medical professionals and organisations have raised concerns regarding the risk to health from fracking. The Chief Scientific Officer Mark Walport’s report urges caution on fracking to avoid “delayed recognition of adverse effects”. The Lancet has published a review of the risk to health which you can read here.
Contact: Barbara Richardson, Roseacre Awareness Group 07918 106875; Helen Rimmer, NW Friends of the Earth 07940 006783