Preston New Road Community Group Slams New Task Force Report



Preston New Road Community Group

Slams New Task Force Report

Preston New Road Community Group has described the newly-published report by the Task Force on Shale Gas – Assessing the Impact of Shale Gas on the Local Environment and Health – as out-of-date, inadequate and biased.

The group says the report’s assessment of health impact is feeble and contains nothing new, sidestepping the real issues. It relies on a report by Public Health England which was based on old US data and which failed to take into account the majority of evidence which now demonstrates clear risks. Yet the Task Force report dismisses a more recent Medact report which used an updated information base. The report misrepresents the summary findings of the recent New York study, taking over 7 years to compile, which led to a ban on fracking in the State, and the Task Force fails to assess the increased health risks in the UK whose population density is many times greater than in US fracking regions.

Whilst the report points out deficiencies in UK regulation, in particular the failure of the government to implement independent well monitoring and provide for the proper future monitoring of abandoned wells, it has a number of serious omissions which affect the validity of the report’s conclusion that fracking “could” be safe.

The report’s failures include:

  • No consideration of risk of seismic activity damaging wells rather than buildings (as happened at Preese Hall).
  • No consideration of whether the Infrastructure Act now allows waste water injection, and no comparison with re-injection of waste water for reuse for fracking.
  • No examination of potential migration routes from fractured rocks to aquifers.
  • No discussion of reuse of waste water for fracking.
  • No mention of the 2014 Preese Hall barrier failure in discussion on well failure.
  • Avoidance of discussion on for how long monitoring should take place on abandoned wells and how frequently monitoring should take place of water or soil.
  • No mention of air monitoring.

PNRCG conclude the report is fundamentally flawed, and the industry-funded body shows clear bias, particularly in repeating ad-hominem attacks on two of the writers of the Medact report.

A spokesperson for PNR said-

“This report says we must wait until wells have been fracked in the UK before health impacts can be assessed. Once again this is saying we at Preston New Road are to be used and our health put at risk in a UK fracking experiment. The evidence from the US is clear. There is a definite health impact on communities from fracking.

“The Medact report concluded from studying the latest data from the US that there was sufficient risk established for the precautionary principle to be invoked. Yet the Task Force, rather than discussing this conclusion, accuses Medact of being an anti-fracking organisation, accuses its report of providing no new data, and repeats personal slurs on two of the contributors. This is outrageous, particularly when it endorses the PHE report which provided no new research data, and failed to take account of the latest peer-reviewed reports.

”It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that the Task Force, which is funded by the industry, has shown evidence of pro-fracking bias. This is also shown by its calling for a change to the planning system to speed up fracking by taking the drilling of monitoring boreholes out of local hands. The democratic process is being dismantled to allow this Industry to proceed at reckless speed.

“This report has itself nothing new to say. It repeats the same old message, fracking could be safe with tough regulation. We are tired of hearing this same old story. UK regulation is not tough enough. It is not enforceable by agencies which have their budgets and workforce cut. We refuse to be treated as guinea pigs, and demand that both Cuadrilla and the government abide by the Lancashire County Council decision to refuse planning permission at Preston New Road.”

For immediate release

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