AN EXPLOSIVE fracking debate has blown wide open after exploratory plans for the Oswestry countryside were revealed.
Australian developers Dart Energy are currently looking into plans to drill a temporary hydrocarbons exploratory borehole for potential coal-bed methane extraction on land north west of Brooklands Farm in Dudleston. If successful it would take place around the clock over a 60-day period.
However, Dart has also confirmed it will be looking at extracting shale gas over the next 12 months using the fracking method which has caused widespread concern.
Andrew Roberts from coalition group Frack Free Dee, a movement set up to stop fracking across North Wales and North West England, said the process has been linked to human illnesses, drops in house prices, environmental issues and problems for grazing livestock.
He continued: “It is now hugely important that we stand together and show these companies and the Government that people do not want unconventional gas production, which starts with test bore holes, in our communities.”
His thoughts were backed by Oswestry town councillor and Green Party member, Duncan Kerr, who added concerns regarding the waste products: “I think it is very worrying.
“We don’t know the implications of this technology and we can’t even burn the fossil fuels we have got.
He continued: “This demonstrates there is a potential for fracking to come to this area and I do not believe it is safe or sustainable.”
The recent flurry of applications comes just three months after the Department for Energy and Climate Change revealed the whole of North Shropshire is now under consideration for the controversial process along with Chirk and its surrounding area. Mid Wales has not been included.
Earlier this year, North Shropshire MP and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said he wanted to see fracking “exploited” across the UK, but admitted public opinion is against the method.
Peter Reiley, spokesman for Dart Energy, confirmed the current inquiry to see if an environmental impact assessment (EIA) would be necessary with a planning application comes after a successful planning application for the same Dudleston site lapsed last year.
He also confirmed the CBM plans will not involve the fracking method.
“In our view the term fracking has been hijacked and demonised. This is not a new technology, it is well established, but it is new in the UK and there is a lot of interest for the shale gas under our feet,” Mr Reiley said.
“This interest will provide security of the UK’s oil and gas supply because we import a lot from elsewhere and it will also benefit the economy and bring jobs,” he added.
Grahame French, Shropshire Council’s principal planner, said Dart Energy are only currently asking whether a planning application would need to be accompanied by an environmental impact assessment and any response would be based on guidance and advice from relevant bodies such as the Environment Agency.
A decision is expected from Shropshire Council by April 23.