Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby (http://frackfreefandh.wixsite.com/frackfreefandh) have recently announced the results of the Frodsham community survey that they undertook (under the much appreciated assistance and guidance of John Murray BSc (hons) FBCS FSS CITP CEng) to ascertain how the local residents felt about the potential fracking industry in their area. It comes as no surprise to read that the opinions of the Frodsham residents echo those of the other communities that have been previously surveyed. An over-whelming 77.7% of the respondents expressed a resounding NO to the exploration and extraction of unconventional gas in the area. Well done to everyone that was involved with all the hard work that was needed to produce this document.
In a statement to the press, Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby said; “Ascertaining public opinion through a survey, and insisting on democratic representation through our local councillors and MP, is a critical step in opposing the development of fracking in our area. Residents have voiced a range of concerns, including climate change (fracking is incompatible with tackling global warming due to leakage of methane – an extremely potent greenhouse gas); potentially damaging health impacts due to increased exposure to chemicals; risk of land and water contamination; industrialization of the countryside; high levels of heavy vehicle use; a decrease in property prices.”
You can view the complete survey results here:
However, when analysing the statistics as a whole, another factor also becomes very clear; a significantly high percentage of those that responded to the survey did not register an opinion either way as they felt that they were not informed enough to make a considerd decision. This is most surprising considering the pledge that both INEOS and IGAS have previously made to thier potential ‘host’ communities (as demonstrated in this text from IGAS website):
‘We are also committed to maintaining close and responsive relationships with the communities in which we operate and we have a long track record of engaging with local residents’. (1)
An astounding 13.2% of the Frodsham residents, that were sampled, said that they didn’t know or ‘had no opinion on whether fracking would be good or bad for the area.’ Over all, with the most recent surveys taken into account, the average percentage of people that felt that they were unable to respond due to lack of information totals at 13.3%! This statistic includes both the Guilden Sutton (2) and Mickle Trafford (3) survey results. It is fair to say then that the community engagement, of which the fracking industry appears to be so proud of, is drastically lacking and therefore has effected the ability of a significantly high proportion of the residents questioned to respond in an informed and considered fashion.
The Frodsham and Helsby area was subjected to an extensive and highly disruptive seismic survey in 2015 with no consultation, from either IGAS or TESLA (the company commissioned by IGAS to carry out the testing), regarding this invasive practice. INEOS, at a later date, decided to hold a selective presentation behind closed doors (with IGAS representatives present) for local council members only, the general public were not invited to attend and instead held a demonstration outside the premises to express their objections to being ‘locked out’ of the proceedings.
So how are we to interpret this, so called, commitment to our communites by the industry? If they are not upholding their statements to inform us, then we can only assume that their regard for our environmental and health impact concerns will also continue to be ignored and avoided. This in no way goes to comfort and reassure us that they will operate in a safe and simpathetic manner, indeed, it only serves to prompt us to become more sceptical about this dirty and potentially dangerous industry as a whole and will force us to continue to oppose it with even more vigor than ever.
The community surveys have become an extremely important resource, (in the face of the lack of such endevours being undertaken by our local government on our behalf) as they give a voice to those that have previously not had an opportunity or outlet in which they have been able to express their opinions. With the industry pushing forward in other areas of the country, despite clear and present local opposition, it is important to be able to reflect on the concerns of real people and real statistics.
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