I AM appalled that North Yorkshire County Council is dismissing fears of health risks to do with fracking. This is grossly irresponsible and a dereliction of their duty to care for the citizens of the county.

There have been a number of studies linking fracking with health problems. The most recent and most substantial is by Janet Currie and colleagues at Princeton University.

Their study looked at birth certificates for all 1.1 million babies born in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2013. The birth certificates included addresses and vital statistics for each child, such as birth weights, total months of gestation, birth defects, and other abnormal conditions.

Low birth weight is associated with many other negative factors for health and welfare, such as susceptibility to asthma, attention deficit problems and low educational attainment.

The conclusions are unequivocal. The occurrence of low weight and birth defects increases closer to fracking sites. The researchers examined concentric circles at one, two and three kilometres from each site. The most pronounced effects were found to be within one kilometre and no effects were found beyond three kilometres.

This means the price of fracking is not only the damage to the environment and additions to the factors causing global warming, it is also paid in damage to the health of local people.

There is already one village that is dangerously close to a site intended for fracking. But if the exploration companies are allowed to pursue their plans, and numerous wells are sunk, many of the people of North Yorkshire will be subjected to very real health risks.

Maybe the county authorities would like to wait a decade so that we can gather data about the damage that has been done. That approach would be appallingly irresponsible, given that there is already hard evidence for the existence of serious health risks. The appropriate response is to act now to curtail the risks.

Martin Brampton, Green Party Candidate 2017 Thirsk & Malton

Small price to pay

I CAN’T understand Stephen Preston’s problem (Gazette, December 13). I live within two miles of KM8 and drive past there five or six times a week, and only once in a period of 12 months have I encountered a road block which has forced me to go another way.

It is true, however, that the police have put up or left “road closed” notices on our local roads when nothing or very little has been happening at KM8, including at least one Sunday evening when there were no protesters and only one police car on duty there.

We know from Paras 5.134 and 5.137 of the draft county minerals plan that the intention is to allow fracking production sites or drill pads, each covering two hectares at intervals of one and a half miles in every direction.

Stephen Preston will have seen just how obtrusive KM8 has become. Instead of criticising the protesters, he should worry about the impact of this alien industry on our amenities, our property values and our businesses – particularly our visitor economy.

KM8 is only the thin end of a very big wedge. We should be glad the protesters have decided to raise the profile of this matter both regionally and nationally, and any short-term inconvenience we may suffer is a small price to pay for fighting something which will ruin our beautiful countryside forever if it goes ahead.

I admire the courage, determination and perseverance of the protesters. It cannot be very pleasant to live through the winter’s mud, cold and snow in a caravan or tent. They deserve and are receiving considerable local support.

Cllr Paul Andrews, Malton

Misleading picture

NORTH Yorkshire County Council’s claim that the risk to health from fracking is “low”, is disingenuous.

My own research indicates that providing all the regulations are rigorously enforced, and providing there are no accidents, then yes, on paper, the risk from one well at Kirby Misperton is low.

However, health and safety protocols dictate that risk be separated from hazard. Possible hazards should there be an accident, include serious respiratory distress and injury from exposure to hydrogen sulphide and volatile hydrocarbons, and the more insidious long-term effects of known carcinogens such as benzene. Even though the risks of such exposure are low, the hazards could be fatal. That is before one counts the effects on climate change of many dozens of well pads industrialising our fair countryside, the transport of low level radioactive waste and the possible longer term effects of abandoned wells with failed integrity leaking methane into the atmosphere. Sorry NYCC, your claim, though true, is a misleading part of a greater picture.

John Wilson, Kirkbymoorside

A big thank you

THIS morning I received an anonymous letter from a person using the No 8 Park and Ride bus from Grimston Bar. The letter contained my driving licence, which he or she had found on the bus on December 9, where it must have fallen out of my wallet.

Through your newspaper letters section, I hope you will convey my appreciation to this person for this kind gesture and wish him or her a very happy New Year on what is a busy time for everyone.

Chris Longhorn, Kirkella, near Hull