WILDLIFE groups have launched a new report highlighting the dangers that shale gas exploration and drilling pose to wildlife.

The Are We Fit to Frack?

report calls for extraction exclusion zones in Special Protection Areas (SPAs), Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the national parks—warning that endangered species could be at risk.

It contains ten separate safety recommendations aimed at minimising disruption to animals, insects and plants and contamination of waterways and groundwater supplies.

It is spearheaded by a collection of groups including the RSPB, The National Trust and The Wildlife Trust, and is supported by a cross-party team of politicians.

Fracking involves drilling deep underground and then pumping in pressurised water and chemicals to crack the rocks below and release trapped pockets of gas.

Licences for exploratory drilling have been granted in parts of Hampshire, including near Stockbridge.

The report also calls for full environmental assessments to be carried out for each drilling proposal, and for the industry to pay the costs of regulation and pollution clean-ups.

Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: “Our report puts a spotlight on risks and reinforces the growing concern about the impact fracking could have on our countryside and wildlife.”