Hundreds united to show their opposition to fracking in Ellesmere Port on Saturday.
The rally at the town’s Civic Hall was organised by Ellesmere Port Frack Free, members of the Frack Free Dee Coalition, and supported by West Cheshire Labour, West Cheshire Liberal Democrats and West Cheshire Greens.
Fracking is a process where liquid is injected at high pressure into subterranean rocks or boreholes to release oil or gas. But protest groups believe it is harmful to the environment and are showing their opposition to plans for fracking to take place in North Cheshire.
MP for Chester Chris Matheson, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston Justin Madders and Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury united on Saturday and gave speeches at the event.
Mr Madders described fracking as a subject which has “galvanised communities” and said the Ellesmere Port community has a “very clear message” that they wish to send out.
He said: “It’s about what kind of world we want our children to grow up in. We don’t want climate change going out of control, we want a sustainable future and we want energy that’s created from the natural resources we have such as the sun and the wind.
“We can do that in this country, we’re actually very well blessed in access to renewable energy.
“We can show a good fight here. It’s important we fight against the proposal right now and we tell those big companies to ‘frack off’.”
Addressing the crowds, Mr Matheson added: “When IGas tried to frack just outside Upton, it was people standing here in this crowd today who made sure they didn’t. It was the local community and it was those men and women who got cold and wet living in a field to make sure fracking couldn’t happen.
“When you bring the activists, the political representatives and the community together, we’ve demonstrated that we can win.
“We’re ahead at the moment. We’ve got the people on our side and we’ve got the momentum behind us.”
Bands such as The Daymons and Doozer McDooze also performed at the event to entertain crowds who later marched across the town centre, accompanied by drummers.
There were stalls outside the Civic Hall from the likes of Frack Free, Green Party, Labour Party and Ellesmere Port Unite Community.
Mr Amesbury said: “We sent a message to the Tory fox-hunting frackers that enough is enough. We’re going to send you a signal and we’re going to basically prove the pundits wrong and have a bit people power. We’re in the cusp of changing this current unwanted chaotic government.
“We’ve got fights in the community to focus round and this fight against fracking.”
Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, was a key speaker at the event.
She previously lived in the Ellesmere Port area and had joined a fracking protest group.
She said: “I can categorically state, when Labour is in power, our position on fracking is quite simple: We’re going to ban it!
“No ifs no buts – a full ban on fracking.”
“This is about our future and it’s about building our economy on the right things,” Mrs Long-Bailey added.
“If we start down the road of fracking, it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is in favour of fossil fuels at a time when we should be focusing on renewable energy and creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.”
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 exploratory 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.
Concerns have also been raised for the Runcorn area, where Ineos has a major build-up of fracking equipment.
In a statement, IGas chief operating officer John Blaymires spoke of his company's presence in North Cheshire.
He said: “We are currently seeking to evaluate the potential of various rock formations for detailed information and to establish the quantity and quality of natural gas within the rocks.
“Today, eight out of 10 homes use gas for heating, 61 per cent for cooking and up to 50 per cent of our electricity is derived from gas.
“It’s clear the UK needs a secure supply of gas as a bridging fuel until renewable sources can provide sufficient quantum and stability of energy for society’s needs. We are committed to meeting that need in a safe and environmentally responsible way.”
See full story in the Chester Leader