Government urged to set out straightforward case for fracking

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The Government needs to set out its case for fracking in a straightforward manner so the public can see why the process in the UK would be different from US “scare stories”, according to a councillor.

Coun Symon Fraser, who holds the environment, housing and planning portfolio on the East Riding Council, said if the Government was so keen on shale gas, they needed to set out the pros and cons.

On Thursday Labour-run Kirklees Council became the second local authority in Yorkshire to pass a motion warning against a full-scale dash for shale gas, following a similar statement by Sheffield Council last year.

But Coun Fraser said: “I don’t think the council can come out either for or against because it would be prejudging its position on a future planning application that the council will be obliged to handle. We will need to consider each application on its merits.

“The thing that the Government has failed to do is to explain to the British public the difference between fracking in the UK and the scare story type of fracking we have heard about in the USA.”

He said two fundamental differences were that fracking – the hydraulic fracturing of rock with high-pressure liquid to release gas – would be done far deeper in the UK and there was a far tighter regulatory system here.

However Friends of the Earth said residents needed to be aware that fracking and its environmental consequences would potentially happen in East Yorkshire.

Exploratory drilling – using conventional means – took place last year at two sites in East Yorkshire, High Fosham and Crawberry Hill, near Walkington.

Yorkshire and the Humber campaigner Simon Bowens said shale gas was being targeted at both sites, adding: “The only way you can get it out is through fracking.”

He said: “We are seeing increasing levels of evidence from sources including the US Environmental Protection Agency who are making the link between shale gas extraction in the US, water pollution and all the wider environmental impacts we are seeing in the US.

“Yes, you could have a very good regulatory regime but it doesn’t make it safe.

“We are already seeing weaknesses – the Environment Agency who will be the regulator saying to drilling companies regulate yourselves pretty much.

“They are not doing any site visits to any of the test drilling that has gone on so far.”

A spokesman for Rathlin Energy (UK) Ltd, the company involved in East Yorkshire, said: “We are looking at conventional targets. There are no plans to frack either well as things stand at the moment.”

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