Greenpeace has warned that fracking will harm the housing market, potentially reducing the value of nearby properties by tens of thousands of pounds and making them more difficult to sell.
A survey conducted on behalf of the environmental pressure group by market research firm Redshift revealed estate agents’ concerns about the impact of the controversial technique for extracting oil and gas from shale bedrock.
Prospective buyers in areas already targeted by fracking companies are also concerned about looming shale developments, with some sales already falling through as a result.
Louise Hutchins, Greenpeace UK’s energy campaigner, accused ministers of “betting” on other people’s mortgages on fracking. “How can people believe their promise that shale extraction will not have an impact on house prices when estate agents disagree and the government continues to refuse to publish key evidence?” She continued.
“With a highly uncertain election just days away, candidates will face a difficult task convincing their constituents that fracking is worth all this pain for such little gain.” It’s no surprise that over a thousand candidates from all parties have already pledged to oppose this risky industry in their respective districts.”
The findings, released today, are based on a survey of 60 estate agents distributed evenly across three key areas where energy firms intend to conduct fracking: West Sussex, Manchester, and Lancashire.
Fracking operations, according to two-thirds (67%) of estate agents polled, could lower house prices. The majority of them estimate a value loss of more than 8-11 percent, with two agents estimating a loss of 41-70 percent. With the average house in the UK costing £272,000, even a 10% drop in value could result in a loss of tens of thousands of pounds, according to Greenpeace.
The majority of estate agents polled (54 percent) are also concerned that fracking will reduce property sales near potential fracking sites. The majority of those who are concerned believe that more than one out of every ten purchases could be impacted, with nine dealers estimating that 25-50 percent of all sales could be impacted.
One-quarter of respondents also say home buyers have expressed reservations about the possibility of fracking in the area, with four estate agents reporting that some customers have backed out as a result.
Just after the general election, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected to auction off licence blocks to fracking companies covering more than half of the United Kingdom. The government has previously stated that there is no evidence that fracking will have an impact on housing prices. Greenpeace, on the other hand, stated that ministers have “refused to publish in full a heavily redacted report believed to contain evidence of the shale industry’s impact on the housing market.”
Three-quarters of the estate agents polled said fracking should be prohibited until more research is conducted. All but two (97 percent) also agreed that the government should release the redacted report in its entirety.
Greenpeace cited the case of James Nisbet, who lives just a few hundred metres from one of the Lancashire sites where energy firm Cuadrilla is attempting to use hydraulic fracturing – fracking – technology. He claims that a few prospective buyers have backed out of buying his £375,000 home after learning about the impending energy development.
“We’ve had six viewings so far, all with very positive feedback,” he said, “but no one wants to commit to buying with the fracking shadow hanging over us.” “And we’re not the only ones. I’ve heard the same storey from a number of people in the area. We’ve been here for 15 years. I really like this place and don’t want to leave, but I also don’t want to be here to see what fracking will do to this community.”
“It’s worrying that homeowners who happen to live in fracking zones are being kept in the dark about how fracking will affect them,” said Paula Higgins, chief executive of HomeOwners Alliance, of the Greepeace research. Some are already bearing the brunt of the impact, as a result of cancelled sales and depreciation of their homes.
“The government must lead an open and honest discussion about fracking and its impact on the local community.” Our homes are our most valuable asset, and ministers should not be permitted to ride roughshod over people with no discussion or consultation and only a smidgeon of compensation.”