The first chance to find out more about an energy research centre earmarked for Ince Marshes comes this week.

Public consultations will be held at Elton Community Centre from 10am to 2pm and at St Mary’s Church in Thornton-le-Moors from 6-8pm on Wednesday, October 11. 

The multi million-pound  Cheshire Energy Research Field Site – commissioned by the Natural Environment Research Council and to be delivered by the British Geological Survey (BGS) – would carry out research into natural, sustainable resources for heat and energy. 

It would see 80 observation boreholes of various depths drilled across a 28 sq km area around the marshes, the BGS's preferred site for the centre. 

However, there are fears some of the research carried out there could ultimately pave the way for the controversial practice of fracking – injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks or boreholes to release oil or gas – to come to the region.

Local Labour MPs Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port & Neston), Chris Matheson (City of Chester) and Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) have already voiced their concerns over the plans, as have anti-fracking group Frack Free Frodsham & Helsby. 

A leaflet informing residents about the consultation says: “We want to create an ‘underground observatory’ in the Ince Marshes area of North Cheshire.

“It will be a world-class research site, bringing together leading scientists and engineers for the development of energy technology.

“The observatory could research carbon storage, lower-carbon energy sources – and plenty more besides."

People will have the chance to talk with BGS scientists about the project.

Planning permission will be submitted after the public consultations, more of which are being planned for November and December.