In relation to unconventional gas and oil exploration and exploitation (e.g. including, ‘shale gas’ extraction, ‘fracking’ and ‘coal bed methane extraction’) our Aims are:
- To raise funds collectively to pursue UK and European legal protections and challenges to Government Ministers and departments, public bodies and councils where necessary to stop or slow the ‘dash for gas’, to undertake related work and to create a fund that enables Alliance members / local groups to be prepared in advance for situations which may require legal action;
- To create greater public and political awareness and clear understanding of the risks and threats to human and environmental health and quality of life at both exploration and exploitation stages – including in relation to water quality, climate change, and saleability and value of land and property.
- To clarify, collate and raise awareness of independent expert perspectives and independent scientific and technical research on the issues.
- To clarify and campaign to remove conflicts of interest within government and industry, including in elected and unelected roles, and advisory roles within government i.e. tackle ‘Sleaze’
- To ensure the voice of communities is properly heard in relation to these issues, backed by independent advice on the issues concerned.
- SaFE understands that no type or amount of regulation can make fracking and other unconventional hyrdocarbon exploitation safe (SaFE). However, if government continues on its current (steam-rollering) path and a regulation and control system is to be put in place it should include robust, coherent and independently verified risk assessments, should include no self-regulation by the industry because of its history of multiple catastrophic failings, so that any regulation regime includes independent oversight and significant enforceable penalties for any failure to comply, as this will make the industry accountable for the harm it causes to human and environmental health, and help ensure that the real risks have real enforceable costs associated with them, as we believe this will make the industry financially unviable. Non-disclosure agreements with landowners and local communities should be made illegal.*
* When we set ourselves up two years ago, we wanted to be able to address all the possible legal circumstances that we thought could/might arise in the Govt’s ‘Dash for Gas’ proposals.
In fact, the policy that we are hoping to legally challenge at the moment:
has a great deal of emphasis in it about the ‘safe’ existing and future regulation. See:
Our view is that there is no amount of regulation that could make fracking safe.
We will also campaign for and work to achieve:
- A full and open LCA (life cycle assessment) over exploration, drilling and 20-30 year post drilling phases is also required, in line with UK government sustainable development policies being implemented across all departments, which are the responsibility of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This must cover all forms of unconventional gas exploration and extraction including all associated industrial activities at the drill site and beyond the site, and must assess:
- Overall climate change impacts – CO2, methane and any other climate change impacts
- Water impacts – quality / pollution, quantity, availability and cost of water supplies
- Embodied carbon and energy impacts
- Impacts on ecosystems health, value and services
- A full independent analysis of the extent to which the current government’s unreserved support for the unconventional gas industry conforms to or contradicts the core components and principles of sustainable development in economic, social and environmental terms. Specifically the extent to which it conforms to or contradicts:
- The precautionary principle;
- The principle of meeting the needs of the current generation without reducing or threatening the ability of future generations to meet their needs (such as the need for a unpolluted and protected water supply, in quality and quantity);
- Any and all other core globally accepted principles of sustainable development.
- Given the government’s emphasis on ‘sustainable growth’, this work must properly and robustly assess and define what makes any activity that generates economic growth (a rise in GDP) ‘sustainable’, and what makes it ‘unsustainable’ in order that the term ‘sustainable growth’ can have credibility and genuine meaning, and that proposals for economic activity associated with unconventional gas extraction can be assessed against this.
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