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Fracking: 'Fear Of Unknown' In Countryside

A former Tory minister calls on the Government to be more open about the effects of fracking on the countryside.
Fracking is causing a «fear of the unknown» in the British countryside and people need more information, a Conservative former minister has warned.

Nick Herbert, an ex-justice minister, claimed the controversial technique was considered the next biggest threat after unwanted housing developments.
Mr Herbert did not condemn fracking but made clear his constituents in the West Sussex seat of Arundel and South Downs have deep concerns about it.
The practice involves fracturing rock deposits deep below the ground with high-pressure blasts of water and chemicals.
Ministers believe it could lead to major cuts in energy bills by reducing the UK's reliance on other sources but campaigners are fighting drilling.
Protests were held at a site in Balcombe, West Sussex, last week as test drilling began despite energy company Cuadrilla insisting its current operations will not involve fracking there.
Mr Herbert told the Telegraph: “There is a lot of concern about the impact of new housing in West Sussex. This (fracking) is seen as a second threat to the countryside.
“People are worried about the implications and they don't have enough information to know how damaging it will be. It is the fear of the unknown that is exacerbating local concerns.
“People understand the national arguments about the need for secure and cheap energy, but they don't know how much this is going to damage the local environment.
«What you are talking about here is very beautiful and tranquil countryside that people are keen to preserve. At the moment it is unknown — we just don't know what the potential impact and scale of this is. There does need to be more information.»
His comments come amid increasing signs of unease among MPs about the innovative method of extracting gas from shale deposits deep under the ground.
Another Tory MP, Eric Ollerenshaw, has suggested the development of shale gas facilities could create a new «North-South divide».
The Lancaster and Fleetwood MP warned that the North of England would not be prepared to absorb the potential environmental damage while the South reaped the financial rewards.
He spoke out after Tory peer Lord Howell of Guildford sparked outrage by suggesting fracking should be confined to «desolate» parts of the North.
Lancashire has been identified as one of the areas with the most potential for hydraulic fracking, with a recent report suggesting there could be 1,300 trillion cubit feet of shale gas present.
Mr Ollerenshaw said: «We want [a] level playing field across the country. We do not want … that the North gets the dirty end and the South sucks up all the energy.»
Liberal Democrat party president, Tim Farron, has also said that a «short-sighted» rush to exploit deposits could cause long-lasting damage to the countryside.
«I am afraid the Government has seen flashing pound signs and has not considered the long-term threats fracking poses to the countryside,» he said.
«I think this is a very short-sighted policy and we will all be left to live with the consequences.»
Energy minister Michael Fallon was this weekend reported to have relished the prospect of fracking under the «chattering class» commentators in The Weald in the affluent South East.
The Mail on Sunday reported he told a private meeting that «the beauty» of drilling in Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey was that «of course it's underneath the commentariat — all these people writing leaders saying 'Why don't they get on with shale?' We are going to see how thick their rectory walls are, whether they like the flaring at the end of the drive!»
A spokesman for the energy department did not dispute the paper's account of the comments, but said: «Fracking will only be allowed in the Weald if it is safe and poses no risk to the environment.»

The Telegraph