Reader’s letters - Friday June 19, 2105

A Cuadrilla exploration drilling site
A Cuadrilla exploration drilling site
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Health concerns in USA

I was intrigued to read an article in the Financial Times at the weekend (Fracking industry looks to Pennsylvania for guidance). It reported that Cuadrilla has cited rural Pennsylvania in the US, home to America’s ‘fracking revolution’, as a model for Lancashire.

Now local Lancashire County Council planning officers have given the green light to one of two pending applications from Cuadrilla to drill. The elected council members charged with endorsing planning permission should examine just what has happened in the model US state Cuadrilla cite.

There was an article in the Washington Post on April 10 this year (Rise of deadly radon gas in Pennsylvania buildings linked to fracking industry, www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/04/09/rise-of-deadly-radon-gas-in-pennsylvania-buildings-linked-to-fracking-industry/). It reported a new study in the journal, Environmental Health Perspective, that revealed a “disturbing correlation” between unusually high levels of radon gas in mostly residences and fracking that has become the industry standard over the past decade.

The researchers found that, in the same areas of the state of Pennsylvania as the fracking operations, there was generally higher readings of radon, with about 42 per cent of the readings higher than what is considered safe by federal standards.

Moreover, the researchers discovered that radon levels spiked overall in 2004, at about the same time fracking activity began to pick up.

Moreover, just last week, a federal investigation into links between fracking and drinking water contamination in Bradford and Susquehanna Counties in Pennsylvania found some private water wells had been damaged by methane and ethane migration caused by nearby fracking (Pennsylvania case studies mirror EPA’s national fracking report, State IMPACT NPR, 11 June, http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2015/06/11/pennsylvania-case-studies-mirror-epas-national-fracking-report/).

I agree with the observation by Cuadrilla boss Francis Egan, reported today (Go ahead for Preston New Road fracking test, LEP June 16) as saying “ The councillors will make up their own minds”. Before they do, I think the councillors need to make sure they are appraised of these studies before making their final fracking decision.

Dr David Lowry, environmental policy and research consultant

Surrey

Friends use scientific facts

Eric Vaughan, Cuadrilla’s well services director, in his letter (LEP June 15) responding to my previous letter of June 9, gives lengthy detail of the company’s proposed activity in the Fylde. In response to this I would simply say that his statistics are presumably sourced from the same document we have used, namely, Getting Shale Gas Working.

This document is available online and I would ask LEP readers with access to the internet to look at the document and draw their own conclusions.

I refute strongly his statement that the points made in our letter are, “unfortunately fairly typical of the misleading scaremongering we have come to expect from her organisation”.

Friends of the Earth does not and never has done “misleading scaremongering”. They win arguments with credible evidence and analysis. We back up ideas with facts and the latest science.

Our experts are respected by politicians. In 2009, Members of Parliament and peers named Friends of the Earth best environmental charity for communicating our ideas to them.

Our motto is “Friends of the Earth see things differently”.

Clearly, and with justification, we view the outcomes of shale gas extraction in the Fylde very differently from Mr Vaughan and Cuadrilla.

Mrs D Kelk, joint co-ordinator, Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth

‘Money behind EU publicity’

The subject of purdah before the EU referendum remains unresolved and meanwhile David Cameron’s promise he will “not embark on a taxpayer-funded spending spree” over the referendum leaves open the question of the millions in propaganda money the European Commission plans to spend. Mr Cameron can have no control over that, especially since much of the propaganda money is hidden.

For example there are hundreds of “experts” from universities and multi-national corporations who will be invited by the BBC and other news organisations to make arguments in favour of a vote to stay in the EU.

However, both British universities and many multi-nationals benefit each year from millions in taxpayers’ money paid to them by EU institutions. During 2013, the European Commission paid €8,392,495 (£6.02m) in taxpayers’ money to the London School of Economics.

In 2012, the amount paid was €5,657,935 (£4.06m), with earlier years showing similar taxpayer-funded, EU directed largesse.

Yet the BBC and other news organisations will be able to use “experts” from the LSE and other universities which benefit from millions in such payments right up to the end of the referendum campaign without disclosing their financial interest in continued EU membership.

The BBC is itself one of the biggest beneficiaries of taxpayer-funded EU money. Between 2007-2013, the European Commission paid the BBC €30,180, 057 (£21.68m).

Yet the BBC will remain free to use the full force of these taxpayer-funded millions to continue with its relentless pro-EU coverage, right up to polling day. Some purdah.

Paul Nuttall, UKIP Deputy Leader and North West MEP

Cuts hitting the poorest hardest

Since 2010, the UK government’s main policy to recover from the global financial crisis has been deep spending cuts. This has had some effect on reducing the deficit but, as there was no growth, debt has risen from 50 per cent of GDP in 2010 to 90 per cent of GDP in 2013. The effects of the cuts has hit the poorest in society the most. Since 2010 the wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK has doubled.

This does not seem fair to me whichever party you vote for.

Walt Emsley, address supplied