Fracking row: Greenpeace accuse our MPs on water risk

Greenpeace campaigners make their point in Chancellor George Osborne's constituency.
Greenpeace campaigners make their point in Chancellor George Osborne's constituency.
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Environmental campaign group Greenpeace is accusing local MPs John Hayes and Nick Boles of allowing drinking water supplies in their constituencies to be put at risk by frackers.

Greenpeace say the two men are among five Lincolnshire Tory MPs who voted to loosen fracking regulations and allow firms to drill through sensitive water catchment areas.

Greenpeace say most of south Lincolnshire is licensed for fracking – hydraulic fracturing – a hugely controversial technique for extracting gas or oil from shale rock.

Greenpeace campaigner Simon Clydesdale said: “Lincolnshire’s MPs have failed their constituents by voting to open up vital groundwater areas to frackers, putting drinking water at risk. The lack of robust regulation around fracking just proves how badly we need a moratorium to protect our countryside, water and environment.”

But Mr Hayes, the South Holland and The Deepings MP, has accused Greenpeace of being “alarmist” and says: “The argument about drinking water is a completely specious one because the statute is absolutely clear about the responsibilities for protecting drinking water – in any case, the fracking takes place well below the aquifer so the prospect of affecting drinking water is absolutely minimal.”

The MP pointed to a clause in the new law that says: “ ... hydraulic fracturing will not take place within protected groundwater source areas”.

Stamford and Grantham MP Mr Boles, whose constituency includes Bourne, has not commented.

Fracking was halted in the UK in 2011 after minor earthquakes near Blackpool were attributed to test wells drilled by energy company Cuadrilla. Three independent experts said future earthquakes stemming from fracking could not be ruled out, but the risk from any tremors was low and structural damage was unlikely.

Other concerns about fracking include:

• Leaks of the ‘greenhouse gas’ methane

• Potential risk from a cocktail of chemicals in the fracking fluid used for drilling

• Waste water containing things like naturally occurring radioactive material

On February 11, MPs voted to allow fracking to resume in the UK.

Greenpeace say some safeguards suggested by Labour were stripped out of the legislation, but Mr Hayes says there are sufficient measures in the new law to protect the public and he feels it unlikely that there will be fracking in South Holland.

A county council spokesman said there are no sites in Lincolnshire with planning consent for extraction of shale gas or fracking and no applications are pending.