Dunbar doctor says ban fracking to protect health

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A local doctor says East Lothian Council (ELC) should ban fracking in the county because of evidence that it could seriously damage the health of residents.

Retired Dunbar GP Ken Hare - who cared for local people in East Linton for 25 years - has submitted a formal written response to the council’s Local Development Plan consultation.

At the moment, ELC planners say they are minded to allow fracking and other forms of unconventional gas extraction (UGE) with some kind of regulation.

But Dr Hare says that approach is wrong.

In his response, Dr Hare says: “As a former General Practitioner in East Lothian, I am concerned by the increasing evidence of significant health issues coming to light in association with UGE.

“An American study in 2012 showed that both cancer and non-cancer health indicators were approximately 50% higher in residents living within half a mile of UGE due to exposure to air pollutants released during the extraction process.

“Another American study this year showed increased birth defects (both heart defects and brain defects) in association with natural gas Eetraction.

“The exposure of our population to hazardous chemicals of this sort is inexcusable in the 21st century.

“I hope East Lothian will pursue a policy of not allowing UGE in any form.”

Dr Hare’s submission was welcomed by local campaign group DAFT - Dunbar Anti-Fracking Team.

Spokesperson Chris Eden said: “Dr Hare has done everyone in East Lothian a service by highlighting the health risks associated with fracking.

“This research comes from the United States, where unconventional gas extraction is already big business. It’s clear that the companies involved there are more concerned with profit than the health of local people.

“That’s why we’re calling on East Lothian Council to protect our environment and our health.

“We want a complete moratorium on unconventional gas extraction until its safety can be proven.

“That’s a common sense approach, and we’d encourage everyone in East Lothian to take that message to the planners and to their local councillors.”