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Government gives green light for fracking – and for serious public health and environmental risks

The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) has urged the government to reverse its approval for fracking in Lancashire.

FPH President Professor John Middleton said: "The regulatory system for fracking is incomplete and weak. FPH calls on the Government to reverse this decision, and to implement a national approach to meet climate change targets. This would include a rapid move to 100% renewables and a zero-carbon energy system, as set out in our manifesto, Start Well, Live Better.”

He said the decision was perverse, coming as it does just after confirmation that the Paris Climate Agreement will be activated in November. Professor Middleton added that overturning the planning decision made by democratically elected councillors was an affront to local democracy and would send shockwaves through many local communities. FPH has endorsed the findings of a Medact report that calls for an immediate moratorium on fracking due to the possible serious public health risks involved, which include:

  • Potential health hazards associated with air pollution and water contamination; these include toxins that are linked to increased risks of cancer, birth defects and lung disease
  • Negative health impacts associated with noise, traffic, damage to the natural environment and local social and economic disruption
  • The indirect effects of climate change produced by greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Middleton concluded: "The precise level of risk to human health from fracking cannot be calculated. Intensive levels of fracking activity could pose additional risks in the UK when compared to experiences elsewhere because of the proximity and size of surrounding populations.

"More broadly, carbon dioxide is still the major global air pollutant threat, and we have to start taking the pledges of the Paris framework agreement on climate change seriously and leave fossil fuels in the ground."

Written: 06/10/2016 , last modified: 27/10/2016