DEFRA fracking report reveals the truths that the government tried to hide

i Aug 31st 1 Comment by

A fracking report the Government tried to keep secret reveals the true damage that fracking could do to rural economies. 

An internal Defra report on the effects of fracking on the rural economy was published last year, but was so heavily redacted that it was utterly meaningless. The full, unredacted version has finally came out – and it’s explosive stuff.

Friends of the earth  have reported that “The Government was forced to publish it after an appeal to the Information Commissioner, but no doubt were happy to keep it quiet until after Lancashire County Council’s votes on fracking”

The original 13page ‘redacted; report contained 63 sections that were blanked out.

These include:

  • “Three major social impacts on rural communities” — blanked out
  • “Impact on house prices” — blanked out
  • “Impacts already experienced by communities near fracking sites” — blanked out
  • “Impact on businesses and business rates” — blanked out

Only three paragraphs of the Conclusions survived. Even the name of the author was removed. Most bizarrely, officials claimed that there was a “strong public interest” in withholding the information … from the public!


Source: Daily Mail

What did the ‘unredacted’ report reveal?

House prices could fall

“The DEFRA report determines that property valuation declines will vary based on the proximity to a drilling site. For instance, house prices within 1 mile of drilling operations could potentially fall by up to 4-7%, based on the Boxall (2005) et. al report, if they were within 2.5 miles of wells.

In May, the first extensive estate agents’ survey, carried out by the research agency Redshift, found that two thirds (67%) of estate agents interviewed said fracking operations could bring down house prices.A majority of them estimate the loss in value to be more than 8-11%, with two agents putting it as high as 41-70%. [11] Estate agents in areas in which energy firms have applied to start fracking – in Lancashire, Manchester and Sussex – were questioned and one in four said that buyers had expressed concerns about fracking.More than half of the estate agents surveyed said they were concerned fracking could reduce property sales near potential fracking sites.DefraInBlogImage1

In Lancashire, some property owners have already seen 50-100% write-offs in value. Last year, Dianna Westgarth said the price of her house on the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire – just 300 yards from a site where drilling firm Cuadrilla wants to start fracking – had dropped by 70%. [12]

In August, a spokesperson for the Valuation Office Agency – which sets the values of properties for council tax purposes – admitted that commercial activities such as fracking could reduce their value. [13] He said, “Fracking is not widespread yet but if a new site had a knock-on effect on the value of the house then it could also affect the council tax banding.” The DEFRA report states that in the USA, Pennsylvania properties within 1.4 miles of wells, lost up to 12.9% of their value when the frackers arrived.

The DEFRA report states that properties near fracking operations may incur an additional cost of insurance to cover “losses in case of explosion on the site.” Based on this information, home insurance providers should be asked what effect fracking might have on insurance premiums, considering the high risk of earthquakes. Last week, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court has decided that homeowners whose dwellings suffer damage due to fracking-related earthquakes can sue the companies responsible. [16]

In addition, mortgage providers should be asked how property valuations for mortgages would be effected by fracking. Some mortgage providers in the USA refuse to consider properties within fracking zones. [17] One of the lenders involved, Quicken Loans, said, “In some cases conditions exist, such as gas wells and other structures in nearby lots, that can significantly degrade a property’s value.” [18] If you can’t get a mortgage on a property, it pretty much becomes unsellable.

The government has not only failed to further investigate the potential extent of damage caused to the economy; upon producing this report, they have then proceeded to sweep their own findings under the carpet and plead ignorance.”

Source & image – Talk Fracking

Local businesses could suffer

The DEFRA report finds that tourism and other sectors may lose business due to increased congestion and noise, and new perceptions about the region; reducing the number of visitors and an associated reduction in spend in the local tourism economy. It states that rural community businesses such as agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation, which rely on clean air, land, water, and/or a tranquil environment; may suffer losses.

Government figures show that in 2010, tourism in predominantly rural areas was valued at £10.7 billion Gross Value Added (GVA) – the amount of goods and services that have been produced by this sector, minus all expenses directly attributable to the industry. Any decline in tourism would have a massive impact on rural economies because tourism accounts for 5.1% of the total GVA in rural areas. [19]

Source & image – Talk Fracking

Health: Water, noise, light and air pollution

People could experience the consequences of surface water contamination from fracking — not from drinking water but “it can affect human health indirectly through consumption of contaminated wildlife, livestock, or agricultural products”.

Noise and light pollution from rigs could also lead to problems, the internal Defra report acknowledges. It says: “Some residents may experience deafening noise; light pollution that affects sleeping patterns.”

“Noxious odours from venting gases can also impact on air quality for local residents,” it adds.

Truck movements to and from the site – about 14 to 51 journeys a day over a period of weeks – could also impact air pollution and noise.

And if you have resulting health problems you might find your local services stretched with the additional demand from the influx of fracking workers.

The report says that it’s unclear whether the extra funding given to communities “will be sufficient to meet the additional demand if new schools or hospitals are needed to ensure service provision for existing rural communities is maintained”.

source – greenpeace

Money: Housing and jobs

So, your house might be worth up to 7% less if you live within a mile of a fracking site (though other estimates say 10% or even up to 70% of the value could be wiped off) — and you might have to pay more for your house insurance in case of an explosion on site.

And if you rent, rent prices are expected to rise as new workers come into the area.DefraInBlogImage2

Fracking is also a mixed bag for local economies — short term benefits belie costs in terms of industries including “agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.”

The report also highlights concerns about what happens to local economies after the frackers leave.

In case local people were thinking of working in the fracking industry, there is also uncertainty over “how sustainable the shale gas investments will be in the future and whether rural communities have the right mix of skills to take advantage of the new jobs and wider benefits on offer”.

Regulatory uncertainty

And at a time of deep cuts to DECC, the Environment Agency and HSE – the people responsible for regulating the fracking industry – it is tricky that the report recommends that “regulatory capacity may need to be increased”.

A Defra statement said: “This document was drawn up as a draft internal discussion paper – it is not analytically robust, has not been peer-reviewed and remains incomplete.

“It does not contain any new data or evidence, and many of the conclusions amount to unsubstantiated conjecture, which do not represent the views of officials or ministers.”

source – greenpeace

Here’s the full ‘unredacted’ report.

The sections that were previously redacted are highlighted in red


also click here for the full version in PDF

Film night in Hovingham: Groundwell Rising

i Mar 5th No Comments by

A Film Night Social was held in Hovingham 4th March with residents from surrounding villages including Terrington, Slingsby, Nunnington and Stonegrave.

65 people watched Groundswell RISING, a one hour compelling documentary about the human side of fracking.

Coffee and home made cakes were provided generous by artizan supporters.

FFR merchandise including badges, car stickers and bags were sold on the evening.

All proceeds were earmarked in support of our neighbours and friends in Kirby Misperton for the planning objection. (We estimate we will need as much as £15,000 to prepare a detailed technical objection.) More than £300 was generously donated on the night. Our list of Businesses and Landowners against fracking is growing by the day.

The next film night will be in Kirby Misperton Village Hall, 11th March.

Thanks for everyone’s support tonight.

Frank Colenso

Uniting the Roses

i Feb 28th No Comments by

100px-White_Rose_Badge_of_York_svgDuring the past 2 weeks, Third Energy have been holding consultation meetings with residents in Pickering, Gt Habton, Malton and Kirby Misperton. Frack Free Ryedale members have been outside each venue (not being deterred by the cold) for the duration of each meeting from 1.00 – 7.00 pm. This was an important presence to show local residents they are being supported and that they can say no. It was also a message to Third Energy that residents oppose fracking in Ryedale. We counted people going in and spoke to most of the people coming out of the consultatio100px-Red_Rose_Badge_of_Lancaster_svgn. The majority expressed concerns about traffic, air and light pollution, 24/7 drilling and specifically about the impact on house prices.

We were also joined at Kirby Misperton with fantastic support from Frack Free Lancashire and the Fylde. This combined support truly united the Roses from Lancashire to Yorkshire, coast to coast. We are building on our joint efforts and resources to stop fracking in the UK. Let’s keep up the pressure, together we can stop it!


i Feb 13th No Comments by

ryedale_logo_large[1]Ryedale District Council will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting at the Milton Rooms, Market Place, Malton, North Yorkshire at 18.30 on Tuesday 17th February 2015

The Council have called an EGM in response to the growing concern in Ryedale over the wish of Third Energy to exploit shale gas by hydraulic fracturing. This follows closely on from the public debate ‘Unpacking fracking’ held at the same venue on 4th February 2015.

The motion is proposed by Councillor Clark and seconded by Councillor Woodward and states

‘In view of the following facts:-

  • The statutory authorities have neither the people, expertise or the independently verified data to safely control fracking
  • As a result, risk and prevention of dangers will depend on industry self regulation
  • The worldwide evidence to date is that fracking is an unacceptably high risk strategy
  • Ryedale District Council can only condone or oppose fracking

It follows that:-

  1. Ryedale District Council completely opposes all fracking in Ryedale
  2. Ryedale District Council calls upon all Thirsk, Malton and Filey parliamentary candidates for the forthcoming general election to state clearly if they oppose or support fracking’

The council are being advised by their solicitor and monitoring officer Anthony Winship that the proposed motion is in his opinion flawed and unlawful with potential financial implications for the council.

In recent days on the run up to the meeting 2 councillors have resigned from their parties as reported in the Gazette and Herald.

‘District and county councillor Lindsay Burr has resigned from the Liberal Democrat Party. Coun Burr, who has been a member of the Lib Dems for more than 20 years, tendered her resignation on Monday 9th February 2015. She said: “I feel the party has somewhat lost its true direction and my values are no longer aligned to the party. I am particularly against fracking and in the light that Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is supporting fracking, my position has become untenable, as a matter of principle.

Councillor Shane Collinson, who represents Ryedale South West on the district council is also understood to have resigned from the Conservative group. He was unavailable for comment.’

David Davis the petition organiser for Frack Free Ryedale said ‘I call on all the Ryedale Councillors to vote with their conscience. If fracking proceeds in Ryedale it will make life intolerable for many with the industrialisation of the countryside. People will have to live every day and night with excessive amounts of traffic, noise, light and emissions. If Third Energy are granted planning permission Kirby Misperton will be just the first site of several super sized wellsites which will come to occupy the landscape of Ryedale. It will change the way of life forever in this largely rural community leaving a long lasting legacy of health and environmental problems.’