The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has spoken out forcefully against the use of fracking and extraction of shale gas in our current situation. The highly respected and authoritative charity has pointed to the dangers of groundwater pollution, methane leakage, habitat loss, worsened climate change and loss of biodiversity as some of the major reasons why this would not be a positive step forward for either our native birds or ourselves.
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The full briefing is as follows:
RSPB External Position on Shale Gas
The RSPB is very concerned that unconventional gas developments are currently not regulated strongly enough to ensure that the potential environmental impacts are properly addressed. The most significant risks that have not been adequately examined to date are that of accidental pollution of groundwater and methane leakage. It is imperative that these risks are assessed and appropriately mitigated. This will amost certainly require Government to amend or produce legislation.
Direct habitat loss is also a very significant concern in priority habitat areas, including designated and functionally-related sites. It is important to note that both the individual footprint and cumulative impact of these sites could be significant, leading to habitat loss and fragmentation.
Furthermore, the RSPB does not think that developing the UK’s unconventional gas resources is compatible with its commitments on climate change and biodiversity protection. If the UK is to meet its climate change commitments, we cannot allow a new ‘dash for gas’ that would lock us into high emissions for decades to come. Until CCS technology to capture and bury carbon dioxide emissions is proven, further investment in gas-fired electricity is very risky. Therefore, the Government must clearly show how new investment in gas at the level currently proposed is compatible with our short and long-term carbon targets.
John Martin, RSPB Northern Ireland