Fracking Cannot be Made Safe
Swansea Council reassures us that “any planning application for gas drilling would have to include a full assessment of the environmental, social and economic implications of the proposal” (‘Are we being ripped off’, Evening Post, 27th March, final paragraph).
In practice these assessments are produced by the companies applying to drill rather than independently; and sadly our local councils lack the expertise, experience and resources to provide the required level of scrutiny when considering such applications.
All local councils in Wales are obliged by ‘Planning Policy Wales’ to apply the “precautionary principle” to all developments. This document says, “… measures to prevent possibly serious environmental damage should not be postponed just because of scientific uncertainty about how serious the risk is.”
In other words, if we have no independently verified guarantee that it can be done safely, then it shouldn’t be done at all.
There is now ample, independently verified evidence from the USA and elsewhere that “fracking” and other forms of unconventional gas development are far from safe and will have unacceptable adverse impacts on our communities and the environment.
In this situation the default position for our councils has to be rejection of all applications for unconventional gas development until it can be proven to be safe.
All the regulation on earth can only make unconventional gas extraction safer – it cannot make it safe.