Fracking process ‘poses health risks’

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NEWS that parts of St Helens have been found to be sitting on top of reserves of shale gas has opened up a fracking debate.

The UK arm of Dart Energy currently hold a licence to potentially extract shale gas energy from under the surface in parts of Sutton, Clock Face, Newton-le-Willows and Burtonwood in the future.

Although that prospect remains some way off, local Green Party chairman Andrew Donnelly pointed to a “growing body of evidence” about health and environmental risks associated with the controversial process.

He said: “Fracking is little more than a desperate and dangerous attempt to mop up the last fossil fuels available – a short-term dash for gas with potentially catastrophic long-term consequences.

“St Helens has suffered industrial pollution and environmental degradation for centuries, and could once again become a toxic waste dumping ground.”

Fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into underground rock to release shale gas, but has split opinion due to fears it may be linked with earth tremors and other environmental risks.

Tracy Mawson, director of business services at St Helens Chamber, said: “The Chamber welcomes any developments that will provide much needed jobs for local people and boost the borough’s economy, however given the controversial nature of the fracking process we are cautious in welcoming this news.

“We will be keen to learn more details about the exact location of the proposed activity, to ensure it won’t negatively impact on local businesses or residents.”

A spokeswoman for St Helens Council declined to comment.