Villagers in North Notts and South Yorkshire fear that the value of their houses will drop by 7% and property insurance will rise if any fracking takes place.
Last week’s publication of a report by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)), written by its own policy unit, on the impact of shale gas on rural economies caused alarm, when this was confirmed.
“For over a year DEFRA kept the full contents of the report secret”, said David Larder, Chair of the campaign group Bassetlaw against Fracking (BAF) . He explained that he had received a copy that he had requested under the Freedom of Information Act. “Big pieces of text were blacked out of the 23 pages”, David said. He was told that this was because the work was “not analytically robust”.
BAF challenged the Secretary of State for the Environmen, Elizabeth Truss MP ,to publish an uncensored version before the General Election.
David’s letter in March of this year told the Minister “The impact on the selling of houses in Lancashire which are near drilling sites has seen prices fall very considerably. Does your department have any evidence that this drilling in North Nottinghamshire will not affect house prices and house sales?” DEFRA did not answer this point. However, the environmental organisation, Greenpeace, which had also made an FOI request, appealed to the Information Commissioner, who ordered that the full report should be published.
Based on American research, it shows that properties can lose up to 7% of their value if they are within a mile of a fracking site.
David said “In the village of Misson, where exploratory drilling is probably going to be applied for in September, house prices are likely to be adversely affected. One house is 450 yards away. In Lancashire, there has been a rippling effect outwards from proposed sites. Fortunately, Lancashire County Council listened to the people and last week rejected two applications to frack in the county.”
The DEFRA draft report also states “Properties located within a 1 – 5 mile radius of the fracking operation may also incur an additional cost of insurance to cover losses in case of explosion on the site. Such an event would clearly have social impacts, although the probability is expected to be low if the regulator and company manage these risks effectively.
David added “Gringley on the Hill, overlooking Misson, will get the upward sweep of easterly winds carrying toxic pollution if the wells go into production.”
The DEFRA report says, “Noise and light have also been cited in the US as environmental and health concerns for residents and animals living near drilling operations. Excessive and/or continuous noise, such as that typically experienced near drilling sites, has documented health impacts. According to community reports near these sites, some residents may experience deafening noise; light pollution that affects sleeping patterns. Noxious odours from venting gases can also impact on air quality for local residents”
Among other considerations, the DEFRA report thinks that tourism could also be affected.
“The Pilgrim Fathers Heritage which we will be celebrating in Bassetlaw must not be endangered. The Site of Special Scientific Interest, which has a habitat of rare plants birds and mammals is also right next door to the intended fracking site. It too must be protected” David concluded.