Battle lines drawn ahead of crunch meeting for Ellesmere Port 'fracking' site

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

MORE than 2,000 objections and petition signatures have reportedly been received by the council ahead of a crunch meeting to consider a 'fracking' application.

Energy company IGas has applied to conduct an extended test at their Portside North site in Ellesmere Port to check for gas and oil.

Members of Cheshire West and Chester Council's planning committee are set to decide whether to grant permission on Thursday, January 25, at 4pm.

The Standard understands that 2,200 objections and petition signatures have been submitted and collected in objection with just two supporting it.

Anti-fracking campaigners say that if the application is approved, IGas will have the green light to assess the underground geology and the potential of the underground gas by “pumping thousands of tonnes of acid into the ground, forcing out the gas and flaring it into the air”.

However, the company has previously stressed it has no plans at the Ellesmere Port site for hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking – which involves pumping a high-pressure liquid deep into the ground to crack the rock and release gas.

Members of the Frack Free Dee coalition gathered to hand in final objections to the planning department last week.

Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: “With so many objections I would hope that if the planning committee reject the application that the decision is accepted by all concerned and we don’t have Government pressure to approve the application through the back door like we have seen in Lancashire.”

Frack Free Dee spokesman Steve Allman added: “This shows unprecedented opposition to this industry across the region. Local, professionally verified surveys have shown over 80 per cent of communities are overwhelmingly opposed to fracking. This application is just one step closer to full scale fracking and the industrialisation of our beautiful countryside.”

Ellesmere Port resident Jackie Mayers and member of Frack Free Ellesmere Port said: “We collected hundreds of objections in Ellesmere Port town centre from our stall, feedback from locals was that this industry is not wanted here.

“We’ve had to put up with enough pollution over the years and enough is enough. Very few local jobs will be created and a renewable manufacturing industry is needed now.”

Frack Free Dee coalition groups will be holding a family friendly peaceful protest on the day of the meeting from 3.30pm onwards and will attend and speak at the public meeting at the HQ Building on Nicolas Street. All members of the public are welcome to attend.

Frack Free Upton member Colin Watson said: “I think we have an amazing response with over 2200 objections and not only in number but the quality of many of the objections. This highlights the local concern of this industry and we are hoping our elected members will reject this application on the 25th.”

Adrienne Baines, from Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby, said: “When we were speaking to the public, they were very concerned and had no knowledge about this application and were eager to register their concerns. “It is very clear that people are recognising the negative impacts to both health and environment. Fracked gas in no way contributes to our energy security, which can only be gained through renewables.”

Upton councillor and environmental campaigner Matt Bryan said: “It’s fantastic to see what can be achieved when communities and groups come together to raise awareness. It has been proven beyond scientific and medical doubt that this industry causes massive harm to those around it. We need a well-supported green sector to create sustainable, well-paid jobs and to meet the energy needs of residents.”

However, in an interview with this newspaper last month, IGas's well engineering director Kris Bone said: “I think there is a lot of misinformation that we’re going to do some hydraulic fracturing there. We’re not. There’s no hydraulic fracturing planned at that site. It’s a normal well test.

“We’ll run into an already drilled well, we’ll perforate a zone of interest and we’ll see whether it flows gas or oil.”

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

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