Fracking is a hot topic across the UK with some claiming it to be a cleaner solution to an energy shortfall while others a dangerous and polluting process that threatens house prices and health. However, it’s not only the human impacts that have hit the headlines recently but the implications to British wildlife should fracking sites be approved.
At present, the government has located 27 areas of land within England suitable for exploratory fracking work to be offered to drilling companies. Within these regions are a total 53 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and also three RSPB nature reserves. With government threats to speed up the fracking application process and also consultations on plans for a further 132 fracking licences, the RSPB have called on the government to keep its promises to protect wildlife.
Matt Williams, Climate Change Policy Officer of the RSPB has pushed for the Government to honour its pledge that there would be “no fracking in protected areas”
At present new fracking licences are to be granted “for areas of the UK that [would] put some of our most precious wildlife sites under threat [and] questions need to be asked why the Government has begun handing out new licences before figuring out how it’s going to protect our most sensitive sites” says Williams
“The Government should introduce new measures that rule out fracking within all protected sites, including SSSIs, before handing out any new licences,”
“This is just the first of a number of improvements that should be made to the regulation around fracking; changes that are badly needed to protect people and nature.”
Among the SSSI’s currently within the proposed fracking zones are Attenborough Gravel Pits, once listed in the top ten “eco places” in the world and Fairburn & Newton Ings, one of only ten Statutory Bird Sanctuaries in England.
Further groups including the National Trust and Campaign to Protect Rural England have also been among those to urge the Government to rethink current plans to kick start the UK fracking industry and calling on further regions to be protected including Special Areas of Conservation, Local Wildlife Sites and local nature reserves.
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