Since the Balcombe protests this summer, the government and petro-chemical industry have begun a crude PR campaign to soften up the UK Public.
Behind the scenes it looks as if they’ve been leaning on the National Trust Director-General, and they are hyping a soon to be published study by the water industry, saying it has concluded that fracking is safe, when in reality a spokesman for Water UK, which represents the industry and has carried out the report, has admitted that “There are risks.”
They are also publicising a recent report by Public Health England, an agency of the Department of Health, which reviewed the latest research into the risks of emissions of the chemicals used in fracking and radioactive material released with the gas. Their conclusion is that “potential risks to public health from exposure to the emissions associated with shale gas extraction are low if the operations are properly run and regulated”. This ignores the fact that fracking companies currently self-assess as to the safety of their activities. At Preese Hall (the first UK fracking site) there was not a single visit from either the Environment Agency or Health & Safety Executive, and Cuadrilla fractured a well case (which they did not report to the EA), overran their planning permission and produced highly radioactive waste.
The report states that ‘high quality well integrity’ should protect water sources, ignoring the fact that no such thing as ‘high quality well integrity’ exists. A percentage of wells fracture and no casing has yet been designed that is 100% safe.
The report admits that an American study found 75% of fracking fluid cemicals could affect skin, eyes and breathing, while 25% are carcinogenic. But they suggest that strict enforcement of chemicals handling and attention to well design will mean we can all relax. Is that likely?
The BBC website states the energy minister Michael Fallon welcomed the findings. Anyone in their right mind would not welcome these findings at all.
Flying in Chris Faulkner, a man with all the finesse of a night-club bouncer, and known as the ‘Frackmaster’ to allay our fears by telling us that in America thousands of wells have been drilled to no ill effect, has backfired. Even the most gullible TV viewer is unlikely to fall for this bizarre form of bullying, disguised as ‘schmoozing PR’.
The sad conclusion to be drawn from these events is that they still haven’t got the message that the British public don’t want their countryside ruined, their air and water held to ransom, and their roads clogged with trucks containing foul chemicals.
I just hope Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and every other body that is against fracking can mobilise public opinion and counter these clumsy attempts to hoodwink us all.