Look into health impact of fracking, MPs urged in letter from experts

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MPs are facing calls to scrutinise the health impact of fracking after campaigners described the most recent government report on the subject as "seriously out of date".

Thirteen health experts have written to the Commons Health and Social Care Committee to commission a report to replace the document published by Public Health England in 2014.

In a letter to the committee's chairwoman, Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, they said the report was ‘very limited in scope’ and ‘seriously out of date’, adding that hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies on the health impact of fracking have been published since then.

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Signatories to the letter include former Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb, Professor John Ashton, the former president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, and Dr David McCoy, Professor of Global Public Health at Queen Mary University London.

They add that the 2014 report only offered advice on “the potential public health impacts of exposures to chemical and radioactive pollutants as a result of shale gas extraction” and did not assess any other public health or social impacts of fracking.

In a statement issued by the campaign group Frack Free United, one of the signatories, Dr Barbara Kneale, a consultant in occupational health, said there was "more than enough scientific evidence to cast a shadow over the safety of this industry".

She added: "Why is the government taking such a risk of adverse outcomes for a fossil fuel which we do not need or want?

"I believe the population of England is being ignored and the public health of the nation is being put at risk. So just ask yourself, is it worth risking your health, that of your families and that of the British public?"

Shale gas firm Cuadrilla was given the green light by the Government to start fracking at a well in Lancashire last month, and there are several sites in Yorkshire where firms want to carry out the controversial practise.

Fracking proposals at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, which were expected to be approved this year, have been delayed pending a review into the finances of Third Energy.

The Yorkshire Post reported yesterday that Malton town mayor Paul Andrews is applying for a judicial review over the Government's plans to speed up the planning process for fracking proposals.