Proper running and regulation will ensure fracking public health risk remains low

A new report into the public health risks associated with fracking has found that the chances of exposure to shale gas emissions are low if operations are run and regulated properly.

Public Health England (PHE) says that risks identified in other countries are "typically due to operational failure."

PHE's Dr John Harrison, says "good on-site management and appropriate regulation" of exploratory drilling, gas capture and the storage of fracking fluid is "essential to reduce the risk of ground water contamination". Fracking wells that are not well maintained (i.e. that leak) can result in chemicals getting into water supplies.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including the need for environmental monitoring ahead of fracking, so that risks can be fully assessed. This monitoring should, says PHE, be continued during development and production, and after production, in order to assess broader public health impacts.

A poll in August which looked at public attitudes towards fracking indicated that more people in the UK support than oppose its use. Conducted by the ICM for the Guardian, the survey showed that 44 per cent of people said that fracking should happen in the UK, compared with 30 per cent who said that it shouldn't.