S&TA endorses report on risks posed by fracking and urges much stronger safeguards to protect fragile ecosystems

The Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) today joins with other leading countryside groups to launch "Are We Fit to Frack?" – an important report on the shale gas industry.

It highlights a lack of regulation around shale gas exploitation and calls for much tighter controls on the industry. It contains ten key recommendations for making fracking safer as the Government continues with its push to get companies to apply for licences to explore and drill for shale gas.

These include:

  • all protected wildlife areas, nature reserves and national parks to be frack-free zones;
  • full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal;
  • for the shale gas industry to pay the costs of its regulation and any pollution clean ups.

Janina Gray, S&TA Head of Science, declares: "The water use of the UK shale gas industry could exacerbate pressure on rivers and wetlands, particularly on sensitive water bodies and those already suffering from over-abstraction, such as chalk streams, and this adds yet further pressure on declining fish populations – the Atlantic salmon being a prime example. This, coupled with the risk of water pollution – including groundwater contamination – could, if not correctly managed, be significant – possibly irreversible. Action must be taken now to ensure all necessary environmental protection and regulatory frameworks are in place before extraction goes ahead."

Paul Knight, S&TA CEO, adds, "The current lax regulatory framework favours shale gas exploration against the environment. While we understand the need for the UK to be energy self-sufficient, this should never be at the expense of our unique and fragile ecosystems which, when once destroyed, are lost forever."

The report was produced by the Salmon & Trout Association, the Angling Trust, the National Trust, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. It is based upon the document ‘Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas in the UK: Examining the Evidence for Potential Environmental Impacts’, and peer- reviewed by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), one of the UK’s leading ecological research institutes.

The recommendations contained in the report are:

  • Avoid sensitive areas for wildlife and water resources by creating shale gas extraction exclusion zones.
  • Make Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)mandatory for shale gas extraction proposals.
  • Require shale extraction companies to pay for a world-class regulatory regime.
  • Prevent taxpayers from bearing the costs of accidental pollution.
  • Make water companies statutory consultees in the planning process.
  • Require all hydraulic fracturing operations to operate under a Groundwater Permit.
  • Make sure the Best Available Techniques (BAT) for mine waste management are rigorously defined and regularly reviewed.
  • Ensure full transparency of the shale gas industry and its environmental impact.
  • Ensure monitoring and testing of shale gas operations is rigorous and independent.
  • Minimise and monitor methane emissions.

Click here to read S&TA Policy Statement: Fracking

Click here to read Policy recommendations for a robust regulatory framework for the shale gas industry in the UK

Click here to read Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the UK