Scottish Environmental Protection Agency

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The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency SEPA is the environmental regulator for Scotland. SEPA are members of The Cross-Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Scotch Whisky.[1]

Report on shale gas

In November 2016, SEPA published a 'Health Impact Assessment' of the exploitation of shale gas in Scotland, in collaboration with NHS Health Scotland. Their full summary:

'Health Protection Scotland (HPS) has undertaken a Health Impact Assessment of the potential health consequences of developing unconventional oil and gas. Health issues considered were identified by interested stakeholders, including communities, industry, and experts, as well as via previously published reports. The evidence was assessed via a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed scientific publications, and categorised as being sufficient, limited or inadequate. The report concludes that overall there is inadequate evidence available to draw conclusions on whether development of shale oil and gas or coal bed methane would pose a risk to public health. If unconventional oil and gas developments were to take place, HPS discuss a precautionary approach based on a range of mitigation measures involving operational best practice, regulatory frameworks and community engagement could be adopted.' [2]

However, a fracking literature review published by Andrew Watterson and William Dinan concluded that:

'Although several reports and papers, including some from the UK government and its agencies, state fracking would be safe assuming there is or will be industry best practice and ‘robust’ regulation, the evidence base for such statements is remarkably sparse [...].
There are multiple serious challenges surrounding location, scale, monitoring and data deficits facing regulators overseeing onshore UGE and fracking in the UK;
The evidence from peer-reviewed papers suggests fracking in the UK will not be effectively regulated. It is highly likely that regulatory agencies may lack the staffing and resources necessary to monitor and enforce effective regulation of the industry;
US and UK peer-reviewed analyses and EU law identify both the precautionary principle and prevention as keys to dealing with fracking. This is underpinned by findings from the peer-reviewed public health literature that already identifies significant hazards and major potential risks from the industry.'[3]

References

  1. Scottish Parliament, Cross-Party Groups in the Scottish Parliament- Registration Form, no date given, accessed 5th October 2011
  2. Unconventional oil and gas research published, Wired Gov, 09 November 2016. Accessed 15 December 2016.
  3. Andrew Watterson and William Dinan, A RAPID EVIDENCE ASSESSMENT OF REGULATION AND REGULATORY PRACTICES INVOLVED IN FRACKING AND ITS PUBLIC HEALTH IMPLICATIONS, Regulating Scotland, accessed 16 December 2016.