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Suffolk: Six groups joining forces in call for more regulation on fracking

10:43 13 March 2014

Campaigners from Greenpeace hold a demonstration outside County Hall in Norfolk

Campaigners from Greenpeace hold a demonstration outside County Hall in Norfolk

Archant Norfolk

Six of Britain’s leading wildlife and countryside groups have united in an uncompromising call for tough regulations on fracking – with a large swathe of Essex and part of west Suffolk said to be “under consideration” for the highly controversial method of shale gas extraction.

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The groups say poorly-regulated fracking in the Government’s so-called “dash for gas” would risk harming threatened wildlife in the East of England, could cause pollution in the region’s waterways and would “not be compatible” with greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Zones in Suffolk and Essex are said by the groups to have been classified as having potential for exploitation.

“In the East, fracking licences are currently under consultation with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for areas such as the wildlife-rich north Norfolk coast and coastal areas that form The Wash, a haven for wading birds and designated as a Special Protection Area,” they say.

“Other places under consideration in East Anglia include a large area across the Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire borders, and land surrounding the Thames Estuary.”

The zones appear on a DECC map showing areas under consideration in the current round of onshore oil and gas licensing – but the department stressed there would not “necessarily be any oil or gas activity in any particular part” of the areas identified.

The zones cover a large area of north-west Essex, including the Saffron Walden and Thaxted area. In west Suffolk, the zone covers an area around Haverhill and stretches eastwards towards Long Melford.

The groups – the National Trust, the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association – launched their report, Are We Fit to Frack?, yesterday.

Among their action demands are calls for all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones, for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the shale gas industry to pay for its regulation and any pollution clean-ups.

RSPB conservation director Martin Harper said: “The Prime Minister has been a great advocate for the shale gas industry. He has said we have the strongest environmental controls in this country and nothing will go ahead if there are environmental dangers.

“Our report puts a spotlight on these risks and reinforces the growing concern about the impact fracking could have on our countryside and wildlife.

“We argue that more needs to be done to ensure fracking rules are fit for purpose.”

A DECC spokeswoman said: “For any sort on onshore drilling - conventional or unconventional, like fracking – the country is divided into blocks that could be ‘under consideration’.

The blue areas (on the DECC map above) show the areas under consideration for new licences as part of the 14th round (of the licensing process).

This does not mean, however, that there will necessarily be any oil or gas activity in any particular part of that area. The licences themselves did not give consent for drilling or any other operations.

“Companies would also need permission from the landowner(s) and planning consent.

“There would also need to be Environment Agency permits, Health and Safety Executive notification and “finally a consent from us at the DECC.”

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said the authority had not been involved in any talks or received any enquiries on fracking and “no area is currently being investigated.”

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2 comments

  • For those who have only heard the Government or corporate explanation on Fracking, please read this... most of the general public have little, to no idea of what Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) really is & what actual impact it will have on their lives & community if it goes ahead in their locality. Sadly we the public have only been told about the "so called" benefits of Fracking & much has been done to crowd out anyone who has dared to publically have a differing opinion to that of the Corporations or Government in the media. One might like to ask why there is such hostility towards anyone who speaks out about the dangers, costs & the proven health risks of this “dash for Gas”. According to the Government Potential profits & tax revenues are said to be vast and stories being bandied around that the dash for gas will bring cheaper fuel bills & much needed jobs. Really? Such stories are in the media on a near daily basis, but when put under any sort of scrutiny, the facts don’t hold up & figures become fuzzy with lots of maybe’s by officials. We’re simply not being told the truth. For sure it would seem that the media has been recruited, at a price, to get behind the dash for gas, but isn’t it the media’s role to “report the facts honestly” & with no bias or favour? It appears that few media organisations are willing to tell the full truth about hydraulic fracturing or have been misled by the oil industry who are known to be very economical with the truth when profits are at stake. One example that should have alarm bells ringing for everyone is the effect on property values in areas where “testing” has begun or licences have been applied for, some property values have slumped as much as 75% & more, with resident unable to sell or insure their properties. Then there are the health & environmental impacts to consider. I will be surprised if what I have written here makes it public, lets hope so, as people have a right to know and the media have a responsibility to report the facts as they are without interference or bias. For those who rightly have concerns and wish to know more please search “ianrcrane” and check out this mans credentials. Ian R Crane is an Ex- oil executive with 20 years experience of the oil & gas industry, his record speaks for its self. Having now retired, he is extremely alarmed and warning the wider public of the untold story about Fracking, that is not being reported to the public. Ian also does regular weekly broadcasts at 9pm on Monday evenings at the “ukcolumn” who do live internet TV broadcasts & news for those who want the facts and facts only. Thank you for reading Yours sincerely Gak Felixstowe Suffolk

    Report this comment

    Gak

    Friday, March 14, 2014

  • Typical 'Anti's' sensationalism? The current map I saw in the Telegraph barely touches any part of Suffolk so why the panic? Next they'll be telling us that for our own good, we shouldn't have nuclear power...

    Report this comment

    Dean

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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