A report published by the University of Florida has shown that there will be perceived risks and threats associated with fracking, that will repel tourists from areas where the practice is to take place.
The report entitled ‘Fracking and Parkland: Understanding the impact of hydraulic fracturing on public park usage’ investigated the integration of unconventional shale gas extraction with public recreational spaces.
The authors found that out of 255 people surveyed from five Appalachian:
- Most respondents expressed familiarity with the process of hydraulic fracturing. More than 60% reported being either somewhat familiar or very familiar with the term “hydraulic fracturing”; on the other hand,10% had never heard of the term before taking the survey. Nearly one-third of the sample lives in a region impacted (either currently or expected to be) by fracking. Most respondents (40%) oppose fracking in any form, while 23% are supportive, 25% are on the fence, and 12% are unsure.
- Park users are concerned fracking that occurs on or near their public parks will negatively impact their participation. Only one-third of participants indicated their willingness to participate in recreational activities near fracking operations (33%, compared to 38% unwilling and 29% neutral). More than half of all respondents expressed: concern that a fracking operation would limit their ability to access their park (52%); willingness to travel further to visit a park unaffected by fracking (56%); and support for legislation prohibiting fracking near their favorite park (58%).
- In general, park users believe that fracking on public land is unnecessary and bad for the environment. More park users agree fracking on public land is bad for the environment (48%) than those who agree fracking has no impact on the environment (16%). More park users also support banning fracking on public land (46%, as opposed to 20% who agree with promoting it). 50% of respondents believe fracking on public land should be subject to greater oversight and regulation, while 13% believe it should be subject to less oversight and regulation. When neutral responses are removed from calculation, the contrasts are much starker.
- While park users generally hold strong opinions that fracking has a negative impact on the natural environment, most park users surveyed for this study are less critical when it comes to its economic benefits. Park users attitudes toward the economic impact of fracking on public land were far more neutral (e.g., regarding its contribution to traffic and gas prices), and in some cases, were positive (such as its impact on the creation of temporary jobs).
The question citizens of County Fermanagh must ask is if tourists will be less likely to use our county for recreational purposes, for if this is so, then this will lead to a detrimental economic effect for the region.
Perhaps more importantly though, for those of us that live here, we know that we currently enjoy an environment which is beneficial to our health and well being. How will this effect our positive well being if the perceived risks of unconventional shale gas extraction turn out to be real?
To read the report in full, please click here. Leave your comments below.