Following the decision last year by New York state to ban fracking for natural gas, a group of senior doctors and academics in the UK has called for a similar, nationwide moratorium on the extraction technique. This would extend the ban on “unconventional oil and gas extraction” announced by the Scottish government earlier this year to the rest of the UK. The Welsh Assembly has already passed a motion against fracking, which is a highly controversial technology in many European countries and not widely deployed there.
In a letter published by the British Medical Journal, the health professionals write: “Fracking is an inherently risky activity that produces hazardous levels of air and water pollution that can have adverse impacts on health. The heavy traffic, noise and odour that accompanies fracking, as well as the socially disruptive effects of temporary ‘boomtowns’ and the spoilage of the natural environment are additional health hazards.”
They point out that the UK is likely to suffer the ill-effects of fracking more than other countries because of its greater population density. This would lead to gas extraction taking place close to communities, rather than in more isolated locations. The letter notes that there are also strong environmental reasons to ban fracking, because contrary to some claims, shale gas extraction would “be incompatible with global efforts to prevent global warming from exceeding two degrees centigrade.”
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