Fracking & wildlife

Whisby Nature Park, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust is in a potential fracking area

Climate change is presenting a significant and serious long-term threat to biodiversity and people across the world.

 

The Wildlife Trusts believe we need:

  • a reduction in energy demand and for energy efficiency measures to provide the central focus of the Government’s approach to sustainable energy policy;
  • a reduction in dependency on fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil);
  • Government funding prioritised on the development and implementation of renewable technologies;
  • the restoration of ecosystems, such as peatlands to absorb carbon (and a range of other natural services) to help mitigate and adapt to human induced climate change.

All forms of energy generation will entail some environmental costs and we believe that the risks and benefits associated with each need to be weighed against each other and considered in the context of location and scale.

Hellenge Hill, an Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserve in a potential license area for fracking

Shale gas and fracking

The extraction of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing presents a number of environmental risks to wildlife and society. In the dash for shale gas, we have particular concerns that this is running ahead of effective regulations to minimise and eliminate the serious risks. The Wildlife Trusts are particularly concerned about the impact on:

  • water quality (surface and ground water contamination) and quantity (water stress and availability);
  • habitats, species and ecosystems (disturbance, damage, loss and fragmentation)
  • Climate Change (through increased greenhouse gas emissions)

In 2014, in partnership with the Angling Trust, the National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon & Trout Association, and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, we published Are We Fit to Frack? The report made ten recommendations to make the regulatory framework for the shale gas industry, fit for purpose.

One of these recommendations was adopted in January 2015, when Government announced a ban on fracking at the surface within a range protected areas, such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), National Parks.
In August 2015, Government issued 159 new licences for shale gas exploration and development across England. To date a few planning applications have come forward, but more applications are expected - we will address these on a case by case basis to consider the risks to wildlife.

In the rest of the UK, the situation is very different. Scotland announced a complete ban on fracking in October 2017 and Wales and Northern Ireland currently have moratoria on fracking.  

 

Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire - in one of the fracking license areas

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