The Furore of Russia and Cambridge Analytica have made it easier for the government to bury stories that they probably wouldn’t want in the public domain as much. Whilst two of these stories have been published in the nationals, they haven’t been highlighted quite so much due to the stories mentioned above.

Firstly, Property firms make millions buying and selling on land from the Ministry Of Defence (MoD), secondly, figures reveal more than 10,000 excess deaths in England and lastly, Oil companies plan to use acid drilling techniques to boost shale oil production.

Profiting from the MoD

Private property companies have made millions of pounds in profit by buying land from the Ministry of Defence and selling it on, after applying for planning permission. In multiple cases there has been no building occurring before the reselling and on other sites, there has been no development years after the original sale. Furthermore, in most cases the MoD have failed to ensure the profits gained were returned to the taxpayer. Nia Griffith, the shadow defence secretary, said the transactions were appalling and the MoD should have ensured the developers could not simply sell the land on at a large profit.

In 2013, the former MoD Ensleigh site was sold to IM Land for around 17.1 million, however, less than three years later, around one-third of the site was sold to housing developers for £11.3 million, which would represent a profit of around £6 million on that percentage of land.

IM Land is owned by Conservative donor, Lord Edmiston, and further smaller parcels of land have been sold by them for around £10 million. Property company, Linden, are responsible for building houses on the site, however, they are part of the Galliford Try, and Bloor Homes, whom were founded by another Conservative donor, John Bloor.

According to the Land Registry Data, average house prices rose by 23% percent between 2013 and 2016.

Death rates

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Danny Dorling from Oxford University have argued that England and Wales have seen Death Rates increase by 12.4 percent in 2018, this equals around 10,375 additional deaths.

During the first seven weeks of the year, there were around 93,990 deaths, in the last five years the average over the same period has been 83, 615. Authors of the publication in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) also stated that deaths from flu were not unusually high and the weather-related deaths were above average.

They have accused the government of not taking the slowdown of improvements in mortality seriously and point to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), who published a reported stating that the life expectancy of men and women in the UK have been reduced by almost a year, plus if you count the reports of Victorian era diseases, such as Ricketts, Scurvy, TB and Scarlet Fever, it shows a worrying trend developing under this government.

Diseases such as Ricketts and Scurvy are caused by vitamin D and C deficiencies respectively. This highlights that children and adults aren’t getting the healthy diets they need to develop and live healthily, this is exacerbated by government policy. Furthermore, Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was given a patient safety award after this period of increase in deaths.

Shale oil production

according to an investigation by Unearthed, around 177,00 acres of protected landscapes and habitats across the South East could be at risk from a new oil rush. The investigation has found that 47% of the area licenced for oil exploration above the Kimmeridge is made up of protected landscapes and habitats. The Kimmeridge is a reservoir that companies are looking to target because of the hybrid, limestone and shale oil.

The companies have claimed that it compares to the huge Bakken oil field in North Dakota. UKOG are a leading player in Kimmeridge oil and aim to use hydrochloric acid to boost the flow and they are hoping to extract over 1 billion barrels which would require around 2,400 wells.

UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG), Cuadrilla and Angus Energy are all bringing forward projects that would see thousands of wells drilled across the South East region within the coming decades. The spots that could be affected include, huge chunks of the South Downs national park along with the Surrey Hills and High Weald areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). There are also dozens of sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) which are at risk from the plans.

Bakken has been at the heart of the fracking boom in the US but in the UK, there is a ban on fracking at depths of less than 1,000m – as well as from the surface of protected areas – but this means that companies are looking for other ways to boost oil production.