Fracking tests begin on the Wirral

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Anti-fracking demonstration outside Liverpool Town Hall. Pics © JMU Journalism

Anti-fracking demonstration outside Liverpool Town Hall. Pics © JMU Journalism

Controversial plans to begin exploring Ellesmere Port for its potential fracking uses have begun this week.

IGas, the British independent oil and gas exploration and production firm, has begun test drilling at the site this week and will continue for the next few weeks as it explores the location.

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is aimed at the rock underground to release the shale gas inside.

The controversial procedure uses large amounts of water that must be transported from site to site and is a costly process to undertake.

There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors. Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.

IGas says: “[We have] played a key role in Britain’s onshore energy production; safely exploring, developing and producing onshore oil and gas at our sites for over three decades. IGas is extremely well positioned for the future as we move closer to unlocking Britain’s untapped unconventional oil and gas resources.”

The Ellesmere Port Frack Free campaign has been set up to organise protests and fight the plans to use the area for shale gas extraction which it describes as ‘dangerous’ and ‘deadly’.

A spokesperson for the group told JMU Journalism: “I have spoken with a few people today and the general feeling is one of anger and frustration. The extraction of shale gas is a damaging process to health, wealth and our environment.

“This is continually proven with documented evidence in countries that have already allowed this practice to take place. Why our council and government would even allow such practices to take place in the UK is beyond believe and these permits are being handed out without any independent research facts being taken into account.”

“The whole operation within Ellesmere Port has been shrouded in secrecy.  IGas, despite publicly stating in the local press that they have had an extensive community engagement program in place, have only held one public meeting with our community in the summer.  This was not widely publicised and only they distributed a few posters and leaflets, therefore many residents were unaware and did not attend.”

“Our town has recently undergone extensive seismic testing, where heavy duty ‘thumper’ trucks caused traffic congestion, property damage, shook homes, scared children and dogs. All of this was undertaken without any warning or explanation to local residents.  The site within Ellesmere Port has already had the foundations laid and the dreaded drilling rig is due any day now.”

About Josh Kelsall, JMU Journalism