The process of granting fracking licenses may well be similar to those of off-shore dredging which a few years back I investigated to see what’s known about its impact on coastal erosion. The EU, Canada, the United States and Japan all acknowledge a link, and in the United States, the coastline is shored up after dredging takes place. The British government does not admit to a link. As my investigation continued, background briefings set up with government scientists were summarily cancelled and answers from press departments were wrapped in so many figures and purple prose to be indecipherable. Meanwhile, it turns out that there are applications to extract 68 million cubic metres from the seabed over the next 15 years from just one area of the North Sea off the coast of Great Yarmouth. The Empire State building is one million cubic metres, so that’s the equivalent of taking out a fair chunk of Manhattan then saying that this has no impact on the wave and tidal flows that cause erosion. Nor has the government produced any explanation as to why its findings contradict those elsewhere. The government “is not in a position to comment on activities that have been permitted by other countries” came the answer. I did find a contact who spoke off the record, saying that the dredging companies pay big money for scientists to write licence applications, leaving few qualified experts in government to challenge the science. There must be a danger of the same happening on fracking in which case prepare for nasty times ahead.