An energy firm is pressing ahead with plans that would see them carry out fracking at a site on the outskirts of Chester.

IGas want to drill a test well on their existing site off Grinsome Road on Ince Marshes, close to Elton.

The company has submitted a scoping request to Cheshire West and Chester Council which will lead to lodging a planning application.

But campaigners against the controversial process of fracking – which involves fracturing underground rocks to release gas – have already expressed their opposition.

Adrienne Baines, from Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby, said: “Though we are not surprised, we are incredibly concerned to hear that IGas have submitted a scoping request to Cheshire West and Chester Council to drill a well at Elton.

“Residents are justifiably concerned about the detrimental and proven impacts on the environment and human health as a result of the fracking industry.”

Energy firms such as IGas are determined to find out more about fracking and have been drilling and testing for some years, while anti-fracking campaigners say the process is dangerous for the environment and leads to the industrialisation of the countryside.

The Conservative Government supports fracking but Labour and other opposition parties are against it, while the Scottish Government last week announced a ban on fracking.  

North Cheshire is thought to be a hotbed for shale gas deposits and exploratory tests have taken place in the area in recent years, leading to local protests.

The location IGas has earmarked for its new test well is on their existing site off Grinsome Road, close to industries in Ellesmere Port and Runcorn.

An exploratory well was drilled there in 2011.

It is also near the preferred site for an energy research centre which the British Geological Survey is looking to build on Ince Marshes, with the monitoring of shale gas extraction one of its many purposes.

The proposed IGas development would be for one new “temporary” well, initially to be drilled vertically and then horizontally.

The firm intends to hydraulically fracture underground rocks and release shale gas, to assess the “flow potential” of the well.

John Blaymires, chief operating officer of IGas said: “This area of Cheshire has a proud industrial heritage, with excellent utility infrastructure and transport networks in place. There are also a number of significant employers in the area whose businesses rely on gas, which is something that we could potentially supply in the future, directly from the area.

“It is clear that 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 and plan to keep local people abreast of our plans every step of the way.”

Members of the public are invited to a drop-in exhibition at Elton Community Centre, School Lane, on Wednesday, October 18, between 3.30pm and 7.30pm.