The British government’s decision to censor an official state report on the impact of fracking on UK property prices and regional services has roused sharp criticism from MPs and campaigners.
As the government maintains its refusal to offer compensation to homeowners situated near proposed shale gas drilling sites, concerned citizens and campaigners are demanding the release of the full, unabridged study.
Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request tendered to the government, a draft of ‘Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts’ was recently published with extensive sections of the text missing. One particular section of the report, which examines the impact of fracking on house prices, has three entire segments missing.
The government report only referenced research considered ‘robust’, and noted difficulty in comparing UK locales with overseas districts. It also claimed that the confluence of factors, which drive housing prices upwards or downwards are complex and not easily disentangled.
Notably redacted portions of the study spanned its executive summary, a section on ‘Hydrocarbon reserves’, another on ‘investment and job creation’, a third documenting areas ‘likely to be affected by shale gas licensing’, a segment relating to fracking’s economic impacts on rural communities, and large segments relating to the ‘social impacts’ of shale gas drilling on rural locales.
The controversial report was released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the aftermath of the government’s decision to open up two-thirds of England’s landmass to a fresh round of bidding for fracking licenses.
‘Number of redactions comical’
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne say shale gas extraction harbors the potential to enrich the UK’s economy and decrease energy bills. But many MPs contest this view, expressing deep concerns that fracking will reap environmental damage, disfigure the landscape, and decrease the value of home prices in their local constituencies.