Editorials

Public Health England’s draft report on shale gas extraction

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2728 (Published 17 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2728

Public Health England’s draft report on shale gas extraction

Dear Editor,

We write as concerned health professionals who seek to draw the public’s attention to the dangers associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and shale gas extraction in the United Kingdom, as highlighted by a recent report published by Medact.

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.

Such risks would be magnified in the UK where fracking is projected to take place in closer proximity to more densely populated communities; and where there are concerns about the effectiveness of the regulatory system for onshore gas extraction.

But in addition to this, shale gas is not a clean source of energy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas in its own right, and when burnt, produces carbon dioxide. Shale gas extraction would undermine our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and be incompatible with global efforts to prevent global warming from exceeding two degrees centigrade.

The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Robin Stott, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council
Professor Sue Atkinson CBE, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Counci
Professor Hugh Montgomery, UCL
Professor Maya Rao OBE
Professor Martin McKee, LSHTM
Dr Clare Gerada, GP and former Chair of RGCP
Dr Christopher Birt, University of Liverpool and Christie Hospital, Manchester
Professor John Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UCL
Dr Sheila Adam, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Professor Klim McPherson, Chair of the UK Health Forum
Dr John Middleton, Vice President UKFPH
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, KCL
Helen Gordon, Board Member, Climate and Health Council
Dr Frank Boulton, Medact and Southampton University
Dr Sarah Walpole, Academic Clinical Fellow
Professor Allyson Pollock, QMUL
Dr Julie Hotchkiss, Acting Director of Public Health at City of a York Council
Professor Jennie Popay, Lancaster University

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 March 2015
Robin Stott
Co-Chair
Professor Sue Atkinson CBE, Co-Chair, Climate and Health Council. Professor Hugh Montgomery, UCL. Professor Maya Rao OBE. Professor Martin McKee, LSHTM. Dr Clare Gerada, GP and former Chair of RGCP. Dr Christopher Birt, University of Liverpool and Christie Hospital, Manchester. Professor John Yudkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UCL. Dr Sheila Adam, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Professor Klim McPherson, Chair of the UK Health Forum. Dr John Middleton, Vice President UKFPH. Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, KCL. Helen Gordon, Board Member, Climate and Health Council. Dr Frank Boulton, Medact and Southampton University Dr Sarah Walpole, Academic Clinical Fellow Professor Allyson Pollock, QMUL. Dr Julie Hotchkiss, Acting Director of Public Health at City of a York Council Professor Jennie Popay, Lancaster University
Climate and Health Council, London
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