William Eichler 24 February 2016

Fracking causes noise pollution and road damage, scientists say

Fracking causes noise pollution and road damage, scientists say image

Fracking could lead to an increase in heavy-duty vehicles on the road, which could, in turn, give rise to substantial increases in noise levels, road damage, and air pollution in local areas, new research has uncovered.

Researchers at Newcastle University, studying hypothetical scenarios based on data from the US, discovered at peak times nitrogen oxide and dioxide (NOx) emissions could increase 30% over non-fracking periods due to vehicles delivering water and materials.

Unveiling a Traffic Impacts Model (TIM) for assessing the traffic-related impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations, the scientists also suggested there will be a doubling of noise levels and extra strain on road surfaces.

The TIM revealed that for a hypothetical scenario of a six-well site, developed over an 85-week period and serviced by a rural road network, there was a 6% increase in NOx emissions, a 5% increase in CO2 emissions and a 17% increase in axle loading on the roads.

However, at peak times, hourly NOx emissions increased by 30% and noise levels by 3.4dBA.

Dr Paul Goodman, researcher in transport and the environment at Newcastle University, said: ‘Additional road traffic would primarily be heavy duty vehicles such as tankers bringing the water required for the fracturing process to and from the well site.

‘As well as being highly visible, the presence of tankers on roads has a number of environmental impacts: on greenhouse gas emissions, local air quality issues such as NOx emissions and particulate matter, noise and damage to road surface and structure.’

‘While traffic might not be the immediate thing that springs to mind when considering fracking operations, it is important to understand what the traffic impacts might be and consider how these could be mitigated,’ he added.

Dr Neil Thorpe, who is leading the transport team on fracking at Newcastle University, did point out that it might be possible to mitigate the worst of the traffic-related impact of fracking by using pipelines rather than tankers, or by finding alternative fuels for the vehicles.

Dr Thorpe also underlined the importance of TIM assessments.

‘Fracking involves many different inter-dependent processes,’ he said, ‘and as the industry matures the presence of multiple operators, multiple wells on a site and multiple sites within one region may complicate and compound traffic issues.

‘This is why it is important to understand the possible impacts now.’

Highways jobs

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32,029 - £34,788 per annum
Currently seeking an enthusiastic and experienced individual to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Head of Operational and Commercial Services

Copeland Borough Council
£66,273.48 per annum
Looking for a professional with ambition and inspirational leadership qualities, with operational service and... Cumbria
Recuriter: Copeland Borough Council

Senior Practitioner FRAT

London Borough of Bexley
£42,198 - £48,156 (inclusive benefits)
Looking to appoint an experienced Senior Social Workers to assist us in assessing family members/friends to see whether... Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

SEN Case Officer

London Borough of Bexley
£33,738 - £39,696
Would you like to support the educational opportunities for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Bexley? Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Senior Practitioner – Looked After Children

London Borough of Bexley
£42,198 - £48,156 inc benefits
Do you think you have what it takes to join our team of excellent and dedicated social work professionals? Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

This issue of Local Government News explores how councils can tackle modern slavery and trafficking in their supply chains, finds out more about Cambridge's first cohousing scheme and the launch of a new project to build a shared service pattern library for local government.

This issue also contains a special focus on children's services and how councils are protecting children following local safeguarding children boards being abolished.

Register for your free magazine