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Bucks environmentalist calls for fracking ban
A LEADING Bucks environmentalist says the impact fracking could have on Bucks is "as serious as it gets" and has called for the controversial process to be banned outright in the UK.
Dave Hampton, a chartered environmentalist and chartered engineer from Marlow, said he would be peacefully protesting against any fracking plans and that among the concerns Bucks residents could have were the effect on house prices, the frequency of heavy lorries, the costs of policing, use of toxic chemicals, the 'abduction' of water needed for agriculture and possible methane seepage.
A Bucks County Council document shows that, in a crude map, southern areas, including around High Wycombe, Marlow and Beaconsfield, have been earmarked to be part of a Strategic Environmental Assessment.
These areas may, after being assessed, be offered to firms bidding to explore underground for shale gas.
Any planning applications for fracking (hydraulic fracturing) activities associated with Shale Gas exploration or extraction in Bucks would require planning permission from BCC as the Minerals Planning Authority.
However, no operators have yet approached it for pre-application discussions.
Mr Hampton said: "Heavy lorries have already damaged the roads around Balcombe. It would be us, the residents, not the fracking company, who would pay for this, through increased council taxes. We, and not the fracking company, would also pay for policing.
"Having so many lorries moving back and forth greatly reduces quality of life over a wide area, increases traffic congestion, and brings its own pollution."
He went on to question the issue of injecting toxic chemicals into groundwater: "Vast (‘blank cheque’) quantities of fresh water are used too, pumped deep underground at very high pressures, to fracture shale rock deep below. The accurate prediction of permanent geological outcomes is clearly impossible."
He added there would also be seepage of methane, a greenhouse gas in unburnt form: " At this point in history, humans globally extracting ever more fossil fuel, is understandable, but not responsible. It is not setting other countries a good example, nor leading the way."
Mr Hampton said he was concerned for potential "corruption or cronyism" at local and central government level with the onset of the industry in the UK.
He said: "Fracking is making good profits for a small few already, but the lesson from the US is that, for most of us, the problems have been far greater than anticipated, and the benefits have been far less. Countries like Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Japan and China are showing that other ways forward are possible, without all these problems.
"So personally, I’d say it is as serious as it gets. And a line in the sand. It’s not really just about us in Marlow or Bucks, either; although home values falls will be localised. My objection is to ethically bankrupt leadership in government, and the failure of democracy that this represents. That’s why I am protesting peacefully against fracking, whether in Blackpool, Balcombe or Bucks. The people Britain would be wise to seek a total ban."
The Government says it "believes that shale gas has the potential to provide the UK with greater energy security, growth and jobs and that it is encouraging safe and environmentally sound exploration to determine this potential".
It also says that although it already had a strong regulatory regime for exploratory activities, it wants to continuously improve it, noting that "the UK has over 50 years of experience of regulating the onshore oil and gas industry nationally."
Local councils will be responsible for determining shale gas planning applications and setting out the environmental, health and safety issues that need to be taken into consideration
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