Fracking well rejected amid new fears over their impact

A recently published report suggests Lancashire Councillors had justifiable grounds to reject plans to build a new fracking well in Little Plumpton, a village near Blackpool.

A study entitled ‘Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts’ was recently released in full, following a freedom of information battle to reveal the complete extent of the report’s concerns over the impact of fracking. The report found that nearby home owners and businesses operating in the residential property market could seriously suffer from neighbouring fracking activity. The study suggested that fracking could wipe thousands off house prices, as consumers look to avoid fracking hit areas. Properties which are near fracking wells could fall by up to 7% and properties within a one to five mile radius of fracking sites may incur additional insurance costs.

Property owners in the village of Little Plumpton will likely be hugely relieved by the news the bid was rejected. Albeit their location will still command microscopic demand until they discover whether the decision will be appealed.

Critics of the scheme argue that fracking wells will harm the health of those living nearby, pollute water supplies and blight the countryside. The report appears to support their argument. Based on the impact of fracking in North America, the report found leakage of waste fluids had resulted in environmental damage in the US and that fracking could affect human health indirectly through the consumption of contaminated livestock, wildlife or agricultural products. In addition, tourists might avoid areas which are affected by fracking.

Fracking was suspended in the UK back in 2011, following earth tremors in Blackpool where drilling was in effect.

Lancashire counsellors had initially debated whether to hold off their decision until the full report was released, but eventually chose to reject the bid prior to the report.

Experts state that we have shale reserves up to 3000 trillion cubic feet, which could meet our energy needs for 120 years. However, plans for this energy source, obtained through fracking, suffered a very recent defeat, as plans for energy firm Cuadrilla constructing a new fracking well was rejected by Lancashire County Council.

As well as providing access to shale gas to help lighten the energy crisis, those for fracking argued that the plans would bring jobs to the area and, in addition, planning officers had already deemed the process was safe. However, after seeking legal advice, the counsellors voted 10-4 against the new well, citing concerns over noise pollution and the visual impact on the landscape.

The failed bid combined with the reports publication is likely to seriously dampen the Government’s efforts to develop a UK shale gas industry similar to what is being experienced in America.

Supporters of the scheme will argue the councillors made the wrong decision by pointing to the lack of energy alternatives and a lack of evidence for the perceived consequences of fracking. The report contained the disclaimer that the evidence used for the report was ‘thin and the results are not conclusive’. Meanwhile they argue there is certainty over fracking cutting energy bills and reducing our reliance on energy imports as North Sea reserves continue to dwindle.

Benny Peiser, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, called on ministers to review the decision-making process on new wells in order to push through the use of fracking. Mr Peiser stated: “Shale exploration is clearly in the national interest and nimbyism should not stand in the way of energy security.”.

What are your views on the recent fracking developments? Are the recent victories for the anti-fracking protestors a positive or a set back?

Furthermore, could fracking potentially disturb the conveyancing industry through decreasing housing prices in affected areas?

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