CIEH urges UK Government to retain fracking moratorium

08 September 2022, Ciaran Donaghy

Following the announcement from Liz Truss that the UK Government are to lift the moratorium on fracking, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has urged the Prime Minister to uphold the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledge to retain the moratorium if the UK hope to be seen as a world leader in the fight against climate change.

The Conservative Party 2019 manifesto pledged that “we will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”. With the moratorium announced following a series of earthquakes in Lancashire in 2019 caused by fracking activity, CIEH remain sceptical that any scientific evidence exists that shows that fracking can categorically be done in a safe manner.

The environmental health impacts of fracking are well documented. Fracking is a water intensive process, with figures from the US estimating that fracking used between 70 billion and 140 billion gallons of water to extract oil and shale gas from 35,000 wells. Furthermore, peer-reviewed scientific studies show that fracking waste has been responsible for contaminating waterways, and even residential drinking water.

Fracking also releases high amounts of methane gas, a greenhouse gas that traps 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide and is detrimental in the fight against climate change.

The new Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, has been quoted as saying that fracking “won’t materially affect the wholesale market price…UK producers won’t sell
shale gas to UK consumers below the market price. They’re not charities”.

Given this practice is detrimental to air and water quality, emits high volumes of greenhouse gases, and will not materially impact household energy bills, CIEH has urged the Government to retain the moratorium on fracking, and to focus instead on investing in energy efficient measures to reduce energy bills and tackle climate change.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

“We are incredibly disappointed at the recent news that the UK government intend to lift the moratorium on fracking and would urge them to change course.

Fracking is damaging to environmental health, impacting both air quality and water quality, is responsible for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and is incredibly unpopular with the British public.

While we acknowledge the importance of energy security and that ensuring the UK has sufficient energy as we go into the winter months, CIEH would urge the UK government to pursue other measures, such as greater investment in renewables and energy efficiency, in order to meet the UK’s energy demands and protect our environment.

Lifting the moratorium on fracking risks public health, will not materially impact household energy bills, and threatens the UK’s position as a leader in the fight against climate change”

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