One of Europe’s largest seabird colonies could be under threat if ‘fracking’ takes place in or around Bridlington, a conservation charity has claimed.
The RSPB said if hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, took place at or near Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve, it could result in habitat loss and fragmentation, noise and light disturbances and even chemical pollution, “all of which could harm wildlife, watercourses and habitats”.
Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said the Government needs to fulfill its promise to protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), such as Bempton Cliffs.
“In February Amber Rudd, Energy and Climate Secretary, specifically promised to ban fracking within all SSSIs, but this promise seems to have been forgotten,” said Martin.
“We simply don’t understand why these sites, some of the UK’s best and most sensitive wildlife sites and landscapes, aren’t being offered full protection from fracking, when National Parks, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are being excluded from fracking completely. Mr Harper added that a further 292 protected areas throughout England could be under threat, should fracking take place on land previously offered by the government to energy sites.
Research by the charity revealed that the 293 special areas ave been included in the 159 oil and gas licences that the Government have offered to energy companies to date.
It means that nine of the RSPB’s reserves are under threat from the potential of hydrolic fracturing.
Although energy companies need to obtain special permission before they can eplore for shale gas and oil, the charity thinks that there is not enough protection for areas like Bempton Cliffs.
“The Government still has a chance, before these fracking licences are finalised, to fulfill its promise and protect these sites – and the RSPB is urging them to do so.”
It comes after fracking firm, Cuadrilla, was granted permission to explore for shale gas at land between Wetwang and North Dalton in the Wolds.
“These sites make up a very small percentage of the licence areas that the Government has offered; therefore ruling them out would have almost zero impact to the industry but could be a major benefit for wildlife,” added Mr Harper.
The total area of Sites of Special Scientific Interest within the licenced blocks, totals 10,722 hectares, which is less than one per cent of the total area offered to fracking companies