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Frack or fiction? More debate needed

Colin Snowdon

Certain daily newspapers cannot survive without a property related horror story to scare middle England.

In the past, it has been the High Speed 2 rail link and of course our old friend Japanese Knotweed- which inconveniently still has not caused a single house to fall down. As plans for trial drilling sites begin to crystallize, fracking is set to be the next bogey man that will steal our equity during the night. 

There are broadly two potential issues that need to be considered in relation to Fracking.  The first is seismicity – do not panic, but that is small earthquakes to me and you.  It is acknowledged that Fracking can and has caused tremors and if these damage property, then clearly there would something to be concerned about. 

However, consider that there are hundreds of thousands of homes close to railway lines which experience similar vibrations without real problem.

Secondly is impact on amenity. It is true that noise, traffic and visible workings may impact the price of a property but reality is seldom as bad as anticipated. Recently, many householders in an area of  Sussex were said to have put their houses on the market due to the fear of the fracking effect- not because it had actually happened. 

The glut of property inevitably depresses prices and what was a hypothetical risk becomes real due to actions of panicked homeowners, which were in turn stirred up by media hype on the topic.

We clearly need to have a debate about the merits of this process but as an industry we need to inform this process through considered and factual information, not by suggesting these areas will suddenly become mortgage deserts.

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