MPs representing Chester, Ellesmere Port and Weaver Vale will lead an anti-fracking rally this weekend as protesters stage a ‘day of coming together’.
Chris Matheson (City of Chester), Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) and Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) will all give speeches at the the United Against Fracking event in Ellesmere Port’s Civic Square on Saturday afternoon.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will also address the crowd before joining protesters on a march around the town centre.
The event has been organised by Ellesmere Port Frack Free, members of the Frack Free Dee coalition, and is supported by West Cheshire Labour, West Cheshire Liberal Democrats and West Cheshire Greens.
It is being billed as ‘a day of coming together’ to oppose the controversial process of fracking – injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks or boreholes to release oil or gas – in the area.
North Cheshire has been the focus of energy firms and scientists looking to carry out research into fracking, a process protest groups say is bad for the environment.
Energy firm IGas has applied for planning permission to flow test their well in Ellesmere Port, and is also in the process of gaining planning permission for an exploration well on Ince Marshes. The marshes have also been targeted by the British Geological Survey as a preferred location for a major research centre where some of the research will look at how shale gas behaves in the ground. There are also concerns in Runcorn, where Ineos has a major build-up of fracking equipment.
While the Conservative Government is supportive of fracking, the other major parties are against it.
Labour MP Mr Matheson has previously made his position clear on the issue, saying he does not want North Cheshire to become a ‘frackers paradise’.
He said: “The majority of people in Chester have made their mind up on fracking and their safety concerns are my number one priority.
“I won’t support any project that could lead to a green light being given on the extraction of shale gas in Cheshire.
“In the end, we know any future commercial operations here would cut corners to minimise costs and maximise their profits. That’s why I cannot support opening the door to these companies.”
Saturday’s event starts at 1pm, with stalls and live bands in the Civic Square. The speeches begin at 2pm followed by the march at 2.30pm.
See full story in the Chester Leader