Fylde MP presses Government on shale gas well monitoring

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has pressed the Government over shale gas well monitoring.
Mr Menzies wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to ask: “What steps he has taken to undertake baseline monitoring of the health of residents living in close proximity to Cuadrilla Resources’ shale gas well site at Preston New Road.”
He also wrote to ask: “What steps he has taken to institute baseline monitoring sites for air quality in residential areas in close proximity to Cuadrilla Resources’ shale gas well site at Preston New Road.”
Cuadrilla Resources was granted permission to drill at Preston New Road following an appeal that was called in and decided by Secretary of State Sajid Javid earlier this year.
MP Jesse Norman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), told him: “The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) highlights that the first point of contact on population health and well-being issues should be the Director of Public Health (DPH), and recommends that Local Authority planners should consider consulting the DPH on any planning applications that are likely to have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the local population or particular groups within it.
“The role of the DPH is to provide expert advice and support, with an aim to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population. DPHs are able to seek expert advice and support from Public Health England in responding to such planning applications, where necessary, including support for the investigation of any pre-existing health concerns.
“The DPH at Lancashire County Council (LCC) commissioned a rapid health impact assessment of the shale gas exploratory stage, specifically the proposed sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road, which included an assessment of the baseline health profile for residents within the Warton and Westby ward of the Fylde district.”
And on instituting monitoring, Mr Norman told him: “The Department currently grant-funds a research consortium led by the British Geological Survey to deliver a baseline environmental monitoring programme in and around sites in the Fylde (Lancashire) where applications for shale gas wells have been made.
“As a result of this programme and since January 2015, researchers have been gathering data on a number of environmental parameters including air quality. The monitoring located close to the proposed shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton (Preston New Road) includes instrumentation to measure atmospheric composition, wind speed and direction, air temperature and relative humidity.
The monitoring characterises the environmental baseline before any hydraulic fracturing takes place and enables future shale gas projects’ data to be checked against these “baseline” data, allowing any significant changes to be flagged for further scrutiny. The investigations are independent of any monitoring carried out by the industry or the regulators.”

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