Assessing the impact of fracking for rural areas

Assessing the impact of fracking for rural areas

In light of the release of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) unredacted report (Draft Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts paper) assessing the impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Jeremy Glen, partner at Brechin Tindal Oatts solicitors, discusses the legal issues around fracking operations, and what the future may hold for this highly controversial method of extracting shale.

What have been highlighted as the potential negative effects of fracking?

Following freedom of information requests, the full report on fracking by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has now been released. Among the issues raised in the report are:

  • the potential negative impact on house prices in the area
  • unknown environmental damage
  • a detrimental effect on human health due to polluted water
  • the contamination of agricultural products, and
  • the risk of earthquakes

One of the biggest concerns among members of the public in relation to fracking is how it will affect their property and, in particular, their homes. Although concern over the effects of fracking on house prices is commonly centred around damage caused by earthquakes, there are a host of other, perhaps more pertinent, issues which should be considered. Perceived direct effects of fracking can include changes to views, noise, traffic, airborne dust and road damage to name a few. In addition, the potential for issues such as groundwater contamination and methane gas seeps, whether realised or not, can alter the perception of houses in areas where fracking takes place and have a negative impact on house prices.

To what extent could communities or individuals claim for specific loss or detriment as a result of fracking operations? What would be the challenges in bringing any claim?

The UK government has tried to pre-empt claims by communities affected by the fracking process, by declaring that higher levels of compensation will be made available. However, if the risks which have been highlighted do manifest, the potential for claims by community membe

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