Community excluded in fracking risk assessment sham

Re-published from REAF – Ribble Estuary Against Fracking

We are republishing REAF’s latest news item relating to Cuadrilla’s blatant disregard for community involvement despite DECC stating that engagement with the community is an essential part of any Environmental Risk Assessment (ESA). Please share this as the drilling companies and the government must NOT be allowed to get away with short-changing the community in this way.

Community excluded in fracking risk assessment sham

The Department of Energy (DECC) have recommended that an environmental risk assessment (ERA) should accompany planning applications for all shale gas operations. DECC state that an essential part of any ERA is community engagement. These linked documents highlight the fact that Cranfield University, employed to offer best practice on ERA, have failed to meet their main objectives of ensuring that the local community fully understands all aspects of the ERA process, are aware of key technical issues, and can provide input that will inform decisions on shale gas exploration.

· Only two Local Liaison Group (LLG) meetings were planned (see Local Liaison Group Future Meetings).

· The method for choosing the twelve who make up the LLG has yet to be explained and do not appear to proportionally represent the local community (see REAF Cranfield 0313 and REAF response letter Cranfield)

· A request from a local landowner, with concerns about the environmental impact of Shale Gas, to fill a vacant seat at the second meeting was declined (see Request to be included in LLG).

· There were no public meetings held at Banks prior to the first and before the second LLG meetings. Therefore all questions and concerns were from the LLG group and not from the general public (see ERA meeting Round one and ERA meeting – Round two) and in particular those residents who would be affected by these decisions.

· At the second meeting substitute councillor John Hodson challenged the methodology of the consultation process (see attachment Cncllr John Hodson). He was informed that the reasons for the small number of people involved was that it was the most effective way of cascading information down to the local community through the members present. Some of these elected members questioned how this information would be passed to the general public. At this point Cranfield and Cuadrilla were now aware that their main objective of community engagement had not been realised and that this part of the ERA process had failed. In the closing remarks (see ERA minutes Round 2-Concluding remarks) Cuadrilla’s developed ERA is now to be submitted for review by DECC in the next 2 months.

Cuadrilla should not now proceed with finalising their ERA until this objective can be met.

· An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by Lancashire County Council (LCC) is being undertaken at the same site. There have been a number of regulatory bodies who have been consulted in this matter. These organisations do not appear to be part of the ERA process.

The scope and content of an ERA would be a major contributory factor to the viability of individual sites. The risk to public health and the risk of irreversible damage to the environment must never be decided without the full consent of the people whose lives will be most affected.

In the interests of those many thousands of people who could be adversely affected by this industry, REAF should be grateful if you would share this information through whatever channel you have at your disposal.

NB. There were two councillors who attended the first meeting, and three at the second meeting who are members of REAF. They were not originally invited, but requested to attend as substitute councillors, not as members of REAF.

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