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School of Advanced Study academic to investigate the impacts of fracking

Dr Damien Short, director of the Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, is part of an ambitious research project that will investigate the facts behind a controversial issue – fracking (hydraulic fracturing). The project will examine the environmental and socio-economic impacts of this gas extraction process in the UK.

The project will investigate the facts behind a controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), ‘Unconventional Hydrocarbons in the UK Energy System’ brings together leading scientists, engineers and academics. Their task is to provide independent, scientific and evidence-based understanding of the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons – the fracking process.

The holistic project will address five key challenges: the evolving shale gas landscape; shale resource potential in the UK; transportation of the shale gas from reservoir to surface; contamination pathways; socio-economic impacts.

Dr Short, one of the co-investigators on a winning ‘Challenge 5’ bid ‘The social construction of unconventional gas extraction’, says they aim to provide communities, statutory organisations, and policymakers with relevant information that will stimulate a more informed and thoughtful public conversation about the benefits and burdens of fracking. Led by Professor Paul Stretesky at Northumbria University, it is one of seven multi-institution consortium projects about to commence (August 2018) and which will last two and a half years.

‘While hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, may benefit the extraction industry, it may also create negative outcomes in those communities where extraction takes place. The social, economic and environmental impacts need detailed evidence based investigation.’ explains Dr Short, who carried out the first human rights impact assessment of fracking in the UK.

In 2015, he was an expert witness at the Lancashire Development Control Committee for the Preston New Road and Rosacre Wood hydraulic fracturing applications.