'A UK government report concluding that shale gas extraction increases air pollution was left unpublished for three years and only released four days after ministers approved fracking in Lancashire, it has emerged.
The report, written by the government’s Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG), was given to ministers in 2015, but was published quietly on 27 July. Fracking firm Cuadrilla was given the first permit under a new regulatory regime on 24 July, the final day of the parliamentary year.
The Labour shadow environment secretary, Sue Hayman, said: “The decision to grant a licence to Cuadrilla must urgently be reconsidered.” An earlier government report concluded that fracking could cause nearby house prices to fall by up to 7% was also delayed until after an important planning decision.
“There’s a pattern emerging, with environmentally unfriendly government announcements being scheduled to pre-empt worrying reports by experts,” Hayman said. “The decision on Heathrow’s third runway was also taken days before the Committee on Climate Change reported on the danger of CO2 emissions.” A Labour government would ban fracking.
The report estimated that a fracking industry of 400 wells would increase national emissions of pollution, with nitrogen dioxides rising 1-4% and volatile organic compounds 1-3%. But it warned: “Impacts on local and regional air quality have the potential to be substantially higher than the national level impacts, as extraction activities are likely to be highly clustered.”'
Read more: Buried UK government report finds fracking increases air pollution
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