Overview

Fracking, or shale gas exploration, is a gas extraction method involving the hydraulic fracturing of rock to extract trapped gas. A number of sites across the UK have been identified as potential fracking locations, despite widespread environmental concerns.

Chancellor George Osbourne has recently given his support for the controversial shale gas extraction method known as fracking but UK residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the possible negative effects of the process on their health and local area.

Key contact

Stephanie specialises in group actions on behalf of communities and residents across England and Wales affected by various forms of environmental pollution such as odour, noise and dust emanating from factories, landfill sites and other similar commercial entities.  She has successfully concluded a number of environmental group actions in locations within the UK and has secured compensation and an end to the nuisance on behalf of a large number of individuals.

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Your questions answered

What is fracking?
 

Fracking is a process of extracting gas buried deep below the ground and trapped within rock. It involves the 'hydraulic fracturing' of rock to extract the trapped gas – the rock is drilled into and a fluid is injected into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture the rock. Drilling companies believe the UK is sitting on huge shale gas resources, opening up the opportunity for extensive fracking throughout the UK.

Yet fracking may result in increased noise, potential land instability, earth tremors and earthquakes, loss of enjoyment of land, pollution and potential medical issues. Hugh James's team of expert environmental solicitors are experienced at dealing with noise complaints, odour nuisances and pollution nuisance and are well placed to deal with the issues that can result from fracking.

Fracking is a controversial technique and a moratorium has been in place in Wales since 2015. Fracking in other areas of the UK has faced criticism.  Fracking is, however, undertaken in Lancashire but has been subject to suspension.

What are the different types of fracking claims?
 
  • Noise pollution Fracking requires extremely large supplies of water – over 4 million gallons are required to crack the rock – meaning supplies will need to be shipped on and off the site, increasing noise levels locally and potentially congesting roads.Hugh James's environmental solicitors are specialist lawyers who fight for local residents suffering from noise nuisance at their homes. We represent clients on a no win, no fee basis in the pursuit of injunctions to prevent the nuisance from occurring in the future, and compensation to recognise the interference and disruption suffered in the past.
  • Air and odour pollution It is believed that fracking can potentially lead to 'fugitive emissions' of methane into the environment, as well increased emissions caused by the use of drilling rigs and pumps, and vehicles to transport the necessary water and chemicals to and from the site.
  • Health and medical complaints The fluid used in fracking contains a large number of chemicals – those used in the United States consist of a number of known carcinogens and toxins, including lead, uranium and formaldehyde – opening up the potential for health impacts if handled incorrectly.The US's Breast Cancer Action group opposes fracking due to the use of chemicals linked to breast cancer, and believe that not enough is known about the health impacts of fracking to confirm the full scale of potential harm.Hugh James's solicitors have experience in dealing with personal injury caused as a result of environmental issues. If you believe your health has been negatively impacted as a result of fracking, Hugh James can help you pursue a claim.
  • Water pollution complaints Water UK, the organisation representing the UK's water and wastewater utility companies, has expressed its concerns that fracking could lead to drinking water contamination, believing the processes involved affect the public water supply. It also warned that water companies may not be able to effectively clean up the large amounts of contaminated water generated through hydraulic fracturing.The organisation is worried that fracking could allow methane gasses, currently confined within shale rock, to contaminate drinking water aquifers where they sit above shale gas reserves. Additionally, the chemical mixture used in the fracking process has the potential to enter aquifers through the fractures created, or by the poor handling of waste water on the surface.Hugh James has a team of environmental law experts who have had unrivalled success in applying the law to protect the environment.
  • Ground instability and earthquakes Environmentalists also predict that fracking can trigger earth tremors or earthquakes. In 2011, a magnitude 2.2 earthquake occurred just 3km from a fracking site in Lancashire (BGS), leading to the process being halted, and further worries as to the dangers of fracking.
  • Loss of open space and decreasing property values Fracking can also lead to the loss of open space, reduced property value, and loss of enjoyment of your home. This may include issues such as not being able to sit out in the garden, not being able to open windows and doors in the summer and so on.Despite bans and moratoria on fracking being introduced in a number of countries, including France, Swizerland, and selected states and territories in the USA, Australia and Canada, the UK government is keen to develop fracking as a way of tapping into low cost energy. Yet it has the potential to bring misery to local residents and reduce their quality of life. Hugh James's environmental solicitors are here to assist residents with group action claims and seek any compensation due.
What experience does Hugh James have in this type of claim?
 

We are one of the UK’s leading specialists in the field of environmental law and one of only a handful of firms in the country with the knowledge and expertise to successfully conduct environmental claims. We represent large communities right through to the individual with clients located throughout England and Wales. See our environmental nuisance map.

All environmental claimant compensation cases are dealt with by a dedicated team of environmental solicitors, headed by partners Stephanie Eedy and Gwen Morgan-Evans. Our environmental personnel keep up to date with legal developments that affect the work and together we have built up many years of experience in the field.

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Gwen Evans specialises in acting for claimants in group actions relating to environmental pollution. She recently represented a community in a nuisance claim due to dust fallout from a steel plant. One market source said: ‘She gets through a lot of detail very quickly and is unflappable.’

Chambers and Partners UK

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Hugh James recently successfully represented local residents in a difficult and major claim against a landfill operator. Throughout the case, we were extremely impressed by the way in which the case was presented and handled. The solicitor acting on our behalf fully explained our position, opportunities, and strategies, at all times displaying professionalism of the highest order. The pleasant, courteous and patient manner in which everything was fully and effectively explained contributed greatly to success in winning the difficult and complicated case.

Anonymous client

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I wanted to thank you and your team for the way in which you have handled the case. Right from the earliest meetings and the regular updates, things were laid out clearly and emotive issues handled with sensitivity. It’s also clear that you were successful in the negotiations delivering a result that would not have been possible without you. Thanks again for all your work.

Manchester Airport claimant.

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“.. What you have achieved for us is worth more than cash alone. We have been let down by the regulators time and again and Hugh James is the only organisation which has achieved anything for us long-suffering residents. I want to thank you for what you have achieved.”

Mr B – South Yorkshire

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So far, I have found Hugh James to be very open and honest in their dealings. They are very good at keeping us informed of what is happening, and they always ask before carrying out any actions on our behalf. Based on my experience so far, I would have no hesitation in recommending them to help in any action you are considering or pursuing.

Mr Paris

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I would just like to thank your company for the efficient way you have handled this matter / you have kept me regularly informed by the way of letters explaining all procedures and possible outcomes in relation to the investigation.

Mr Tarvin (Hampshire)

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I have to admit that I was very skeptical at first, as it did not seem possible that I would not be considerably out of pocket should we have lost the case at court. However you were able to put my mind at rest. With the success of the claim, I feel this has completely justified our efforts in complaining to the defendant and recording the times etc of the worst incidents. The smell really was nasty at times, which most importantly has now ceased.

Mr Tarvin (Hampshire)

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The reason I joined and contributed to this group claim, was to bring an improvement to my own, and neighbour's environmental living conditions. This has largely been met. Without your involvement, Cannock Council would not have felt it necessary to become involved and we would still be in the same position as we have been for the past forty years. For this, I thank you and Hugh James. Our whole community will reap the benefit of this for years to come.

Mr Woodman (Norton Aluminium Group Litigation)

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The “unstoppable” Neil Stockdale is head of the environment team at the firm. He maintains his position as a market leader on group actions for claimants affected by pollution and blight including odour or noise. Interviewees say he is ‘highly experienced,’ ‘very focused’ and ‘very approachable.’

Chambers and Partners UK

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