A hard hitting report commissioned by the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation was delivered this week to David Cameron and called on the government to investigate the impact of fracking on the rights of individuals.
The report cites human rights liabilities for the British government if fracking is to commence commercially across the UK. It was co-authored by the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment as well as the Environment and Human Rights Advisory and the Human Rights Consortium at the University of London.
It focuses primarily on the health implications of people living by frack sites, where the government is “legally bound to respect and protect human rights, both under the auspices of its own Human Rights Act 1998 and of the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Under these acts, the UK is obligated to consider the environmental impacts of industry on its citizens by allowing for public participation as well as the ‘right to life’, which protects citizens from living near dangerous and contaminated areas, including poisonous water supplies.
The report also highlights the government’s concentrated efforts to sell the positives of fracking over a steady informative review, with consistent claims that burning shale gas produces fewer greenhouse emissions than burning coal.
This claim is disputed by the report, which was personally delivered to the Prime Minister’s home in Westminster by Bianca Jagger, the human rights advocate and Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador, who believes renewable technologies offer greater rewards to the environment than fossil fuels.
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The report particularly cites a 2011 submission to the UN Human Rights Council which argued: “The environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas poses ‘a new threat to human rights’.”
Speaking about the report, Jagger stated: “The UK Government is promoting a fracking agenda despite the well-documented health and environmental impacts. The Government has disregarded the Human Rights of ordinary citizens.
“They are rushing through changes to the law of trespass to speed up the ability of shale gas companies to frack under people’s homes without their consent. The re-writing of the law is being introduced despite widespread public concern about the health and environmental impact of fracking and in the face of overwhelming public resistance from ordinary people.”
“The Infrastructure Bill [which covers shale gas development] is a violation of our basic Human Rights and of our democratic process.”
The government recently came under increasing criticism over a proposed amendment to the Infrastructure Bill which would allow fracking companies to use “any substance” under people’s homes in the extraction of shale gas.
As the Foundation’s report concludes: “There has been virtually no consideration at the policy level of the human rights dimensions of fracking.”
The full report will be launched on 30th November at the University of London.