FRACKING company IGas has bought a six-acre plot of land near Chester, the Leader can reveal. 

Land Registry documents show a subsidiary of the organisation called Star Energy paid £141,000 for the site at the junction of Warrington Road and Ince Lane in Bridge Trafford. 

The news comes less than two months after IGas announced it had abandoned plans to drill for coal bed methane gas at both Duttons Lane in Upton and Salter’s Lane, Mickle Trafford. 

Cllr Matt Bryan, lead anti-fracking campaigner and local member for Upton on Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), said he was not surprised the company was back on the scene.

He said: “As we’ve said all along, IGas pulling out of Upton wouldn’t be the end of them in this area. 

“This latest development... highlights the underhanded intentions of Ineos and IGas having purchased this field in another company name.” 

Star Energy would have to seek planning permission from the council to begin test drilling and no application has yet been made, according to publicly available information on CWaC’s website. 

Cllr Bryan said that setting up a protest camp, similar to the one established at Dutton’s Lane before its eviction on January 12, would be “premature” ahead of the submission of any plans. 

But he said campaigners would remain busy warning people of the dangers of ‘fracking’ – a process that involves drilling deep underground and releasing a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to crack rocks and release gas stored inside. 

Protesters fear the process could leak cancer-causing chemicals into the city’s water supply, pollute the environment and even spark earthquakes. 

Cllr Bryan said: “A camp on the site before planning permission had been granted would be premature but demonstrations and further awareness programmes in the area are being discussed.” 

He added: “For the movement it’s been business as usual – new groups in areas across Cheshire have been established and researching and campaigning has continued. 

“If you are concerned about your house prices and health please consider contacting your local frack-free group to keep up to date.” 

Residents on Warrington Road, close to the Bridge Trafford site, said yesterday that they were not “too concerned” at the prospect of either drills or protesters moving in. 

One man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was hopeful the company would abandon its plans, as it had done at the Salter’s Lane site just a mile and a half away.

And neighbour Pete Johnson added: “I’m not too fussed. If it happens, it happens.”

A spokesman for IGas said its current site selection process was the result of seismic surveys carried out last year to identify possible sources of coal bed methane. 

He said: “The 3D seismic survey we undertook across the region last year, to better understand the geology, is still being processed. 

“The results, along with other survey work, will determine our future site selection and work programme in the area. 

“Once this is known we will consult with the local community.”