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‘Expert’ Report On Fracking Risks Was Written By Green Activist

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Ben Webster, The Times

A report that persuaded doctors to oppose fracking was partly written by a campaigner opposing shale gas extraction near his home.

Medact, a health charity, said that its report had examined fracking “through a comprehensive public health lens” and found it could increase “risks of cancer, respiratory disease and birth defects”.

The “expert” report prompted a prominent group of health professionals to write to the British Medical Journal calling for fracking to be banned “on public health and ecological grounds”.

Signatories to the letter, published by the BMJ yesterday, include Dr Clare Gerada, former chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Helen Gordon, chief executive of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and Dr Sheila Adam, former deputy chief medical officer.

They based their letter on Medact’s report, which fails to mention that one of its “contributors”, Mike Hill, is standing in the general election as an anti-fracking candidate in Fylde, Lancashire, centre of the emerging shale industry.

Mr Hill, who lives in Fylde and is a member of the anti-fracking group Defend Lytham, wrote a report for Friends of the Earth accusing the Environment Agency of lacking the ability to regulate the shale industry.

He has previously been accused of misrepresenting himself by claiming to have advised the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the European Union on fracking.

A DECC source said: “Mr Hill has rather over-promoted himself. Filling in a consultation [form] doesn’t make him an adviser.”

Mr Hill’s election website publishes a number of what it calls “fracts” about fracking, including the claim: “They will destroy the value of your property.”

The Medact report, Health and Fracking, mentions that Mr Hill contributed to three of the six chapters and describes him as an author of “numerous briefing notes and papers on fracking”.

Dr David McCoy, director of Medact and former director of public health in Hammersmith & Fulham, said he had not realised that Mr Hill was standing as an anti-fracking candidate.

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