Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton (FFEP&U) have issued ‘Proof of Evidence’, from nine expert witnesses, to the Government Planning Inspector, ahead of the Public Inquiry.
The inquiry will be held in Chester Town Hall from the 15thuntil the 23rdJanuary 2019.
FFEP&U will be supporting Cheshire West and Chester Council (CW&C) in their defence of the planning committee’s decision to refuse IGas planning permission to flow test their well in Ellesmere Port.
Evidence submitted to the inquiry identifies that the practices of the Unconventional Gas industry could have detrimental effects on health.
Expert witness Prof Andrew Watterson from Stirling University considers that –
“The air quality evidence submitted by IGas is incomplete”.He makes the point that “Just because pollutants are beneath statutory levels does not mean that they are acceptable”.
Prof Watterson is critical that the IGas evidence does not include recent findings and does not illustrate best practice in the area of air quality and emissions. The air quality will worsen. He states –
“The question of transparency and completeness of data used is not answered in the IGas evidence submitted to the inquiry”.
Dr Anna Szolucha, an expert witness and social scientist, provides evidence on the social impacts of the industry. She has previously undertaken an in-depth study focusing on the Blackpool fracking sites, and has identified the stress the residents go through when they learn that operations may take place deep underneath their houses. They may feel powerless to stop a development that is likely to affect the air that they breathe.
Dr Szolucha calls this –
“A collective trauma”.She adds “In the Rossmore Ward, where the drill site is located, the percentage of residents with bad or very bad health is almost double the borough’s average”.
Poor health is particularly compounded in places like Ellesmere Port where people are oppressed by a social system that already creates inequality and poor environmental conditions.
Dr Patrick Saunders, an expert witness on public health, states –
“The effect of pollutants, in areas such as Ellesmere Port, is compounded by other stress factors. These include existing health issues and poor living conditions”. The seriously deprived population closest to the well site will gain nothing from this development but will run the risk of adverse health consequences”.
This underlines the evidence of Dr Anna Szolucha and Prof Andrew Watterson.
The Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic plan identifies Ellesmere Port as an area where deprivation and inequality must be addressed, and huge steps have been made in the regeneration of Ellesmere Port over the last decade. The town must not be allowed to regress into a gas field.
The IGas planning application and the evidence submitted appears to lack clarity and consistency and this is not a sound basis for planning decisions to be based on.
Frack Free Ellesmere Port & Upton will object to this IGas development every step of the way.
Crowd funding for the appeal – http://www.gofundme.com/ellesmere-port-appeal-fund