Column - Frack Free East Yorkshire views with Steven Milner

A shale fracking rig in the United States.
A shale fracking rig in the United States.

Bridlington and the region’s countryside have been shown around the World with TV coverage of the Tour de Yorkshire and local events linked to Hull’s City of Culture year.

Our amazing wildlife sites will attract even more people than usual, but our beautiful countryside is under threat.

Steven Milner.

Steven Milner.

Large parts of North and East Yorkshire, including the spectacular coastline, could be affected by fracking for shale gas. Bridlington, Bempton, Driffield, Filey, Scarborough and all the villages in between are in areas that have been licensed by the government for fracking exploration.

Once a licence has been granted, a company can do seismic testing and then apply for planning permission to drill wells to carry out high volume, high pressure, hydraulic fracturing of the shale rock which lies 7,000 to 10,000 ft beneath the ground.

A mixture of water, chemicals and sand is pumped down the well at very high pressure to create cracks in the shale.

This allows the gas released to travel up the well to the surface, along with large quantities of contaminated waste water, which has to be removed from site in tankers.

The process would also require enormous numbers of heavy goods vehicle movements, bringing in equipment, and the sand and chemicals needed for the operation of the wells.

Some people may think that this area is safe from fracking because they know that much of our area’s water supply is from a large underground aquifer. But even our precious water supplies are not safe.

If drilling happens it will pass through the aquifer to reach the shale layer below, water could be contaminated by leakage from fracking wells. Large quantities of water will also be used in the fracking process.

If fracking goes ahead the process of gas extraction would need huge numbers of wells to be constructed to make the process economically viable.

There would also need to be associated pipelines, storage and processing plants.

The 2015 DEFRA draft report stated “shale gas may transform a previously pristine and quiet natural region, bringing increased industrialisation”.

There is now a vast body of scientific evidence highlighting the risks and harms of fracking to health, the environment and climate. Problems reported from fracking areas around the world include problems with human and animal ill health, air pollution, huge increases in traffic, environmental and road damage.

There are obvious threats to farming and tourism, and possible decreases in property values near fracking sites. Fracking has been banned in many countries including Scotland, Wales, France, Holland, Germany and parts of the USA and Australia.

Supporters of fracking say that in the UK we would have a strong regulatory framework and that fracking could be done safely, but given all the possible risks do we want our countryside to be a huge experiment?

Renewable energy and energy storage research and development need to be the priority of the new Government, not developing a new fossil fuel industry.

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