The Slingsby Village website’s Slingshot feature gives folk a shared platform to express their concerns on the topics of the day. Contributions can be published here anonymously under the Slingshot byline.
Coming soon to a field near you … if you don’t act NOW
Until a couple of years ago the word “fracking” didn’t mean much to me. I had vaguely heard of protests in America about fracking and the environmental damage it caused, but didn’t realise how close to home it could come. I am much wiser now!
A company called Third Energy has submitted an application to open a fracking site at Kirby Misperton (700 metres from the village and close to Flamingo Land). The threat to this peaceful community, the lives and livelihoods of farmers and other residents, as well as to the lucrative tourist trade, is very real. And it is only the start: Third Energy have said they are planning 19 well sites across Ryedale, with between 10 and 50 wells per site. So there could soon be up to 950 fracking wells in Ryedale. Hardly bears thinking about, does it?
I am no scientist but I have learnt that fracking is a fairly new technique for extracting shale gas from underground rock. A well is drilled deep into the rock and a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals is then pumped into the well at high pressure in order to create cracks in the shale, allowing the gas to escape. The gas is drawn back up the well to the surface and large quantities of contaminated waste water also return to the surface. It is a major industrial process with round the clock working: constant lighting, noise and HGV movements. Air, water and noise pollution, as well as health problems, have been reported in America. Since the wells are drilled horizontally once the vertical shaft is drilled, the location of actual fracking can be a good distance from the well head. Vibrations can therefore be felt over a wide area, and there have been earthquakes in Lancashire near the only fracking site in the UK.
A report by the Government’s DEFRA department (initially kept secret and only published after a Freedom of Information request) recognised that the contamination of soil, surface and groundwater is a major concern in fracking. It warns that the leakage of waste fluids could affect human health through polluted water or the consumption of contaminated agricultural products, as happened in the USA. Even if contaminated surface water does not directly affect drinking water supplies, fracking can affect human health indirectly through contaminated wildlife, livestock, or agricultural products. The report also estimates that house prices in a fracking area are likely to fall by up to 7% and that properties within 1.5 miles of a site could face additional insurance costs.
Despite the advice of its own experts, the Government seems hell-bent on developing this industry whatever the environmental and health consequences. It has recently offered licences to fracking companies that cover large areas of North Yorkshire, including the North York Moors National Park (reneging on an earlier commitment to exclude national parks) and most of Ryedale. To make matters worse, the Government has said it will make decisions on fracking applications if local councils do not do so within 16 weeks – it’s not difficult to guess which way those decisions will go!
What can we do about it? The immediate priority is to object to the Kirby Misperton application. This can be done through the North Yorkshire County Council website (www.northyorks.gov.uk) or by email to [email protected] or by writing to Planning Services, County Hall, Racecourse Lane, Northallerton DL7 8AH. The reference number of the application is NY/2015/0233/ENV. The deadline for comments is 14 October 2015.
In addition, you could write to our MP (Kevin Hollinrake, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA), our County Councillor (Cllr Clare Wood, North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Racecourse Lane, Northallerton, DL7 8AH) and our District Councillor (Cllr Robert Wainwright, Ryedale District Council, Ryedale House, Malton YO17 7HH).
Please help stop this threat to our beautiful area.
If you have something that you’d like to share with others, perhaps something you’ve been dying to get off your chest – especially if it concerns Slingsby and its residents – then you can have it published here under the Slingshot byline.