Fracking could reduce house prices, increase traffic, noise and damage the landscape in rural communities, according to a government report which has now been published in full.
The government initially published a heavily redacted version of the document, Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts, but was forced to publish it in full after campaigners took their battle to the Information Commissioner.
It originally had several key sections blanked out when it was published by the Environment Department (Defra) last summer.
Shale gas extraction, or fracking, involves fracturing rock with high-pressure jets of water in order to retrieve trapped gas.
Among the deleted sections of the report were suggestions that house prices could fall by up to seven per cent in areas near shale gas exploration sites, while rental prices in the area could be pushed up by people coming to work on the developments.
The report also suggested that houses within five miles of the fracking operation could face additional insurance costs to cover losses in case of explosions on the site.
It also cites statistics from the United States which say that a study in Texas said houses valued at more than $250,000, and within 1,000 feet of a well site, saw their values decrease by three to 14 percent.
The report also says rural communities could be significantly affected by drilling for gas saying, “shale gas development may transform a previously pristine and quiet natural region, bringing increased industrialisation.
“As a result, rural community businesses that rely on clean air, land, water, and/or a tranquil environment may suffer losses from this change such as agriculture, tourism, organic farming, hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.
Across the UK, the report says fracking could create 16,000 to 32,000 new jobs but that the extent to which these jobs would benefit local communities in areas of fracking would depend on the skill-set of the local labour market.
Following the forced publication of the whole paper, a spokesman from Defra said that it was “drawn up as a draft internal discussion paper – it is not analytically robust, has not been peer-reviewed and remains incomplete.
“It does not contain any new data or evidence and many of the conclusions amount to unsubstantiated conjecture which do not represent the views of officials or ministers.”