Full fracking report to be printed

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Published: Thursday 18th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The Government has been ordered to publish in full a heavily-redacted report on the impacts of fracking.

The internal document – titled Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts – had several key sections obscured when it was published by the Environment Department (Defra) last summer in response to a request under environmental information laws.

Assessments of the impacts on house prices and local services were heavily redacted in the draft report – prompting calls from campaigners, and councillors in Lancashire set to decide if fracking can go ahead in their area, for the full report to be published.

The Information Commissioner has now ordered Defra to publish in full the document, which is covered by Environmental Information Regulations, following a complaint by environmental group Greenpeace.

Defra has 35 days to publish the full report, but Greenpeace has urged the Government to release it before Lancashire County Council’s development control committee meet next week to decide on two proposals for fracking for shale gas in the region.

At a meeting earlier this year of the full county council, councillors voted unanimously for a motion calling on the Government to release the report in full.

Planning officers last week recommended one of the two schemes proposed by shale company Cuadrilla between Preston and Blackpool to explore for gas by drilling, fracking and testing the flow of gas should go ahead but have opposed the other.

The council’s decision on the planning applications was originally due to take place in January, but was delayed when Cuadrilla responded with new information to the original reports by planning officers which recommended both schemes be rejected.

The decision on the two schemes will now be made next week.

Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner Daisy Sands said: “The Government’s stubborn refusal to publish this report in full is totally indefensible.

“By cherry-picking which evidence is released, ministers are misleading both the public and local councillors as to the real impacts of fracking.

“Lancashire authorities are about to make a decision that will have huge repercussions for the life of their communities. They should have access to all the evidence, not just the sanitised digest produced by the Government.

“We urge ministers to disclose the whole report before next week’s decision, letting residents and their councillors make up their own minds about fracking.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “The Information Commissioner’s Office informed us of his decision which we will now consider in full.”

Published: Thursday 18th June 2015 by The News Editor

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