Fracking in the US poses health risks
Fracking harms wildlife and the environment, report says.

A report by anti-fracking campaigners has warned that drilling for shale gas would harm threatened species and pollute the UK's waterways if not regulated properly.

Are We Fit to Frack? has been launched by the Angling Trust, the National Trust, RSPB, the Salmon and Trout Association, the Wildlife Trusts and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust to look at the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on nature and the environment.

The report says that if the industry develops major operations, as the government wants, it must have "robust" regulations in place to prevent risks to wildlife.

The report reviews "current evidence" about the risks of fracking and gives 10 recommendations for how the industry should be monitored.

It says there is a lack of regulation around shale gas exploration that could cause harm to pink footed geese, salmon and barbastelle bats. It says natural habitats such as chalk streams could be damaged, while construction noise, light pollution and increased traffic will have a negative impact on wildlife.

"There are still considerable uncertainties about the potential disturbance levels, but evidence suggests it could be significant," the report summary says.

frack off
Police officers walk past a protester at the gates of the Barton Moss exploration facility Getty

While claiming to be based on scientific evidence, the report has been criticised by Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group, who said it contained "critical inaccuracies".

He told the BBC: "The UK onshore oil and gas industry is separately regulated by four layers of oversight provided by the environment agencies, the Health and Safety Executive, the mineral planning authorities and by the Department of Energy and Climate Change."

"The industry has to comply with 17 European Directives, has to apply for up to nine separate environmental permits, and has to reach binding agreements on noise, hours of operation and on other local social issues."

Previously, an investigation into fracking by IBTimes UK found the debate surrounding the health and environmental impacts were inconsequential as not enough research had been done to provide solid evidence.

The report claims to be based on scientific evidence Reuters

Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: "The prime minister has been a great advocate for the shale gas industry. He has said we have the strongest environmental controls in this country and nothing will go ahead if there are environmental dangers.

"Our report puts a spotlight on these risks and reinforces the growing concern about the impact fracking could have on our countryside and wildlife. We argue that more needs to be done to ensure fracking rules are fit for purpose."

Simon Pryor, National Trust natural environment director, added: "The debate on fracking needs to be evidence based. The evidence from this detailed research clearly reveals that the regulation of shale gas needs to be improved if it's to offer adequate protection for sensitive environments.

"Whilst the government is keen to see rapid roll out of fracking, there's a real danger that the regulatory system simply isn't keeping pace. The government should rule out fracking in the most sensitive areas and ensure that the regulations offer sufficient protection to our treasured natural and historic environment."