UK government ridiculed for heavily censoring fracking report.

Geoffrey Lean in the Telegraph: “The Government has just published a report on the likely effects of the drilling on Britain’s countryside communities – including its possible impact on house prices – that is so heavily redacted it might instead be devoted to a military assessment of options for intervention in Iraq.”
“Rightly or wrongly, it can only raise suspicions in Middle Britain that ministers and the industry have a lot to hide on how fracking will affect its vital interests. And this would make it even harder for them to get the “social licence” of public support that they acknowledge will be essential if the exploration and exploitation of shale oil and gas is to succeed.
The report – Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts, published (if that’s the word) by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – accepts that “large numbers of rural communities may be affected by the expansion of shale gas activities in the North East, West and southern regions of England”. But it then effectively treats how they will be impacted as top secret.
The extent to which the report has been blacked out is almost paranoically Putinesque. Some 58 passages appear to have been redacted in just 13 pages, entirely emasculating some sections. Three paragraphs out of six seem to have been cut from the section on effects on house prices, two out of four from the one on those on local services.
The report’s conclusions are reduced to eleven lines – overwhelmingly devoted to the financial inducements ministers and the industry are offering councils and communities that accept fracking – surrounded by 16 redacted passages. Most ludicrous of all, the report says it has examined a third “major social impact” besides the impacts on property prices and local services, but refuses to tell us what it is, let alone what was found: the section’s title and all its 12 paragraphs have been entirely excised.
But it is the section on house prices that will doubtless cause the most alarm. This is the only place in what remains of the report that any estimates are given of ill-effects from fracking (by contrast optimistic figures of the numbers of jobs that might be created are common). It reports several studies that showed values decreasing in a range from 3 to 14 per cent near where wells are drilled (though one suggested that they increased in Pennsylvania when the property had mains water supply).
Many householders may blanch even at those figures. And they are bound to suspect, rightly or not, that the redacted paragraphs contain far worse estimates of what the losses are likely to be in the British shires. Indeed, people near planned drilling sites in Lancashire are already reporting that their homes are so blighted that they are not able to sell them at all.
Pressure is mounting on ministers to publish the report uncensored – and not just from the inevitable green pressure groups.
….Yet – as events in Ukraine and the Middle East underline – Britain and other Western countries do need secure, indigenous supplies of oil and gas. It can only be hoped that fracking does live up to its much-publicised promise for safe, well-regulated production.
But doubts are growing, not just as a result of mounting opposition, but because the resources are looking less bountiful than had been thought. Last month the British Geological Survey reported that the South of England – recently hyped by ministers as ripe for a bonanza – contains no significant amounts of shale gas and only limited reserves of shale oil, which are thought to be hard to exploit.”