Letter: Fracking - The public are less supportive

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I write to respond to Graham Chalmers’ piece on fracking last week. 

Yes, NYCC planners will be deciding at a meeting next Friday (May 20) whether to allow fracking.  

This is something which has far-reaching consequences, one of many being the high risk of our underground water systems being contaminated by the carcinogenic chemicals pumped deep underground in the fracking process.  

However, we are told that we should not worry about the reports of the dire results of fracking in the USA and Australia as ‘We have better regulation here’.

So I need to let your readers know that I attended the meeting of NYCC at Northallerton in January when councillors questioned the ‘responsible authorities’ such as the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive. 

If you had started off having confidence in ‘regulation’, you would have lost your confidence very quickly in that meeting.

Clarity was clearly lacking about who was responsible and how regulation could happen (especially as they have had staff cuts so will lack the people to do the work). There was even talk of the fracking companies ‘self-regulating’.

When the specialists were asked the question: “Who will pay if anything goes wrong?” There was a lot of buck-passing and it was clear that there was no insurance cover for any form of damage. The HSE and the Environment Agency eventually pointed to the fracking companies as being responsible. However, in reality it would have to be the financial backers who would have to cough-up.

Surely regulation should include that the backers having a legally binding commitment for a huge contingency fund that would be made available for damages incurred.

If the industry is so convinced that they can make everything safe the establishment of such a fund should be no problem.

Has this registered with the banks backing the industry eg Barclays? NYCC beware of becoming the legal scapegoat for damages.

As the public become more aware of the intention to develop a fracking gasfield over North Yorkshire they are becoming less and less supportive of this industry. I urge readers to research this for themselves.

Brian Appleby

Chairman of Frack Free

Harrogate District