Campaigners have stepped up their fight against an energy firm's plans to frack for shale gas on Ince Marshes.

IGas want to drill a test well on their existing site, off Grinsome Road close to Elton, and are consulting the community before seeking planning permission from Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The company held a public drop-in session at Elton Community Centre last Wednesday (October 18), which was attended by anti-fracking campaigners.

Members of the Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby group, supported by the Frack Free Dee coalition, held a demonstration outside the hall and manned an information stall.

A spokesperson from Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby said: “On leaving the public exhibition, residents were very interested to speak to us about IGas' intentions to drill for shale gas in this area, finding that they were not usefully informed by speaking to industry representatives themselves.

“The public exhibition did not quell residents' concerns. The communities in this area simply do not want to live in a gas field."

IGas say Ince Marshes have been chosen as they are located within a predominantly industrial area close to businesses which use high volumes of gas.

A statement from the firm added: “We want to further test the various rock formations, including shale, for detailed information and to establish the quantity and quality of natural gas within the rocks.

“The proposed development would be for one new well, initially to be drilled vertically and then horizontally. We also intend to hydraulically fracture and flow test the target formation, to assess the flow potential of the well.”

IGas has already started the planning process by submitting a scoping document to CWaC. An planning application will follow the public consultations.

Anti-fracking campaigners say the controversial process is bad for the environment, as it can lead to water and air contamination and even earthquakes.

Public awareness presentations will be held by members of the residents' coalition Frack Free Dee in Elton Community Centre, School Lane, on Monday, November 6, and Ince Village Hall, Pool Lane, on November 7, both starting at 7pm. 

Last month it was revealed that Ince Marshes had also been selected as the preferred location for a publicly-funded national research centre, which will monitor the effects of shale gas extraction.