Letter: Fracking regulations

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Permits for shale gas exploratory drilling have already been granted by the Government covering Crawley, so what has been happening in Balcombe could come even closer to homes and families in Crawley and the surrounding area.

Sadly, the arguments so frequently put forward by the government are purely economic and make no mention of the human health risk that comes in the phases of exploratory drilling and testing phases (emissions such as Benzene, Toluene, Xylene and other VOC’s), but also from the fracking phase itself. People living close to the drilling and fracking sites are at greater risk of respiratory health deterioration (as evidenced in Australia) and also could be at a great risk of cancer, birth defects and infertility because of the chemicals used. I doubt much local revenue would compensate people for that kind of suffering and I doubt the economic pressure those increased health problems will put on an already strained NHS has been calculated. If not it has certainly not been made public.

Our Government repetitively states that the UK will have tighter regulations than the US, but current regulations are actually being loosened. In December 2013, Dallas, Texas, passed a ban on drilling for gas within 1,500 feet of a dwelling or school. The industry there is 10 years older than the UK. Let’s learn from that. In Australia there statutory safe limit imposed is 2km. In the UK it is 0m.

If the Lower Stumble site in Balcombe was in Dallas, Texas, drilling for gas there would now be banned (The closest residence is about 1,300 feet from the Lower Stumble site). It is the same situation at the Fernhurst site. The nearest home from the Fernhurst proposed drill site is only 1,100 feet away. Again under the new regulation introduced last month in Dallas, this site would be not be permitted to be drilled for gas. So much for regulation in the UK being tougher than in the US.

John Butcher, Balcombe