Potential Health Impacts of the Proposed Shale Gas Exploration Sites in Lancashire
Decision Maker: Executive Scrutiny Committee, Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
The Cabinet will be asked to:
- Receive the report on the initial health impact assessment of the proposed shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire;
- Authorise the Director of Public Health to take the necessary steps to address the potential influence of shale gas exploration activities on the health and wellbeing of local communities.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health, presented a report setting out the potential health impacts of the proposed shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire. This was as a result of the health impact assessment undertaken on the two proposed sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
It was reported that the Government's policy was to actively pursue the production of onshore oil and gas production and that, with large shale gas deposits thought to be present in Lancashire, the county was at the forefront of the relatively new industry of unconventional gas extraction through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Two planning applications had been submitted in Lancashire; at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood respectively. Whilst there was currently no industry specific planning and regulatory regime, the County Council, with its public health responsibility, had undertaken health impact assessments of both of the proposed sites. As part of this process, the views of a number of experts, residents, applicants and other relevant bodies had been sought.
The main key risks, identified by the health impact assessments, to the health and wellbeing of residents living near to the two proposed sites included:
- Lack of public trust and confidence, stress and anxiety from uncertainty that could lead to poor mental wellbeing;
- Noise related health effects due to continuous drilling;
- Issues related to capacity for flowback waste water treatment and disposal.
The report set out a total of 45 recommendations to address how the above risks, and other issues set out in the report, could be mitigated by the County Council, Environment Agency, the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Health and Safety Executive.
With the agreement of the Chair, County Councillor Liz Oades, addressed Cabinet and highlighted a number of concerns and issues which had been raised with her, as the local County Councillor, by the Treales, Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council. These related to:
- The need to address significant omissions within the health impact assessment;
- The need to address the proposed recommendations affecting the community within the community itself;
- The need to confirm that the actionees have agreed timescales to implement all the recommendations set out in the health impact assessment.
In responding to the issues raised, the Director of Public Health thanked County Councillor Oades for raising the Parish Council's concerns. Reference was made to the omissions referred to having been considered during the health impact assessment; that consultation would continue throughout the process with local communities and that the County Council was committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of local residents and working with other agencies to achieve this as set out in the recommendations within the report.
County Councillor Bill Winlow reported that the Executive Scrutiny Committee, at its meeting on 4 November, had suggested that the wording 'and a rigorous inspection programme' be added to the end of Recommendation 39.
Resolved: - That:
(i) The recommendations that the County Council can address and those that are directed to other agencies in this report, now presented, be endorsed;
(ii) The Director of Public Health be authorised to take steps to action the recommendations set out in the report, now presented;
(iii) The advice of the Director of Public Health to the County Council's Development Management Group, as set out in the report now presented, be noted;
(iv) In respect of recommendation 39, the words 'and a rigorous inspection programme' be added to the end of that recommendation;
(v) That the Director of Public Health be thanked for his comprehensive report and the work undertaken on the health impact assessment.
Date of decision: 06/11/2014
Decided at meeting: 06/11/2014 - Cabinet
Effective from: 14/11/2014