Fracking could hit house prices by 7%

Emma Woollacott
Fracking protest
Fracking protest

Fracking operations to extract shale gas could knock 7% off the value of nearby homes, according to a report that the government appeared to try and keep secret.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) released part of the report, Shale Gas Economy Impacts, last year - but with 63 passages blacked out.

The full version has now been published only after an order by data watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office.

And, the blacked-out portions reveal, house prices within a mile of fracking sites are likely to fall by 7%. This is roughly in line with a survey of estate agents earlier this year which revealed that they expected prices to drop by a tenth.

Houses within five miles could face increased insurance costs, thanks to the danger of explosions, and will be much less nice places to live.

"Some residents may experience deafening noise; light pollution that affects sleeping patterns," it warns. "Noxious odours from venting gases can also impact on air quality for local residents." it adds.

There's also a danger, it warns, of the sort of leakage of waste fluids that has happened in the US. Even if this doesn't directly affect drinking water, it says, there would still be a risk to human health through the consumption of contaminated food.

And the report points to the dangers of increased industrialisation: "Rural community businesses that rely on clean air, land, water, and/or a tranquil environment may suffer losses from this change such as agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation," it says.

Defra is doing its best to dismiss the report's findings, saying it's only a draft internal discussion paper and isn't to be relied upon.

"It does not contain any new data or evidence, and many of the conclusions amount to unsubstantiated conjecture, which do not represent the views of officials or ministers," it says.

The report follows a decision last week by Lancashire councillors to deny Cuadrilla permission to frack there. It had been considering delaying its decision until after ther report was published in full.

And Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth says that Defra's reluctance to publish the full report is telling.

"No wonder Defra sat on this explosive report until after the Lancashire decisions – it shows that people living close to rural fracking sites could see the value of their homes fall by up to 7% and their insurance costs rise," he says.

"Instead of hiding information and trying to force through fracking, the UK government should follow the lead of Wales and Scotland and put fracking on hold."

Fracking Application Rejected in Lancashire
Fracking Application Rejected in Lancashire

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