CIEH welcomes UK Government fracking U-turn

27 October 2022, Ciaran Donaghy

Following the announcement today that the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, will once again reinstate the ban on fracking, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) wishes to welcome this U-Turn.

During his first PMQs, Rishi Sunak stated that he was standing by the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment to only reintroduce fracking if the “science shows categorically that it can be done safely”. Following PMQs, Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister has indeed reintroduced the moratorium on fracking, which the CIEH very much welcome.

The environmental health impacts of fracking are well documented, with CIEH examining the evidence into the process as far back as 2014. 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 as such is incredibly detrimental in the fight against climate change.

Fracking is detrimental to air and water quality, creates significant noise pollution, emits high volumes of greenhouse gases, and cannot produce amounts of shale gas so as to have any meaningful impact on either the UK’s energy security or household energy bills. Therefore, CIEH warmly welcome the decision of the new Prime Minister to reinstate the moratorium on fracking but would urge the UK Government to end the possibility of fracking occurring in future by implementing a permanent fracking ban.

Gary McFarlane, Director at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

“While the recent back-and-forth over the moratorium on fracking has caused much needless concern, we welcome the fact that the UK government has now heeded our calls to reinstate the moratorium on fracking and would urge them to make this decision permanent.

Fracking is damaging to environmental health, with our own research highlighting several concerns to public health including impact on air quality, possible groundwater contamination and noise pollution. Further studies have found that fracking is responsible for high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and is also incredibly unpopular with the British public.

The uncertainty on this issue in the past few months has caused significant damage to the UK’s image as a leader in the fight against climate change. Reinstating the moratorium on fracking is a positive step which goes some way to repairing this damage. However, we urge the UK Government to make this ban permanent. We also call on the UK Government to implement other measure such as greater investment in renewables and energy efficiency, to meet the UK’s energy demands, show commitment to decarbonising our economy and promoting environmental and public health.”

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