fracking site

Cheshire East Council chiefs dismissed potential shale gas “fracking” sites – hours after David Cameron claimed it was the future for energy.

Oil and gas companies leading the charge for shale gas plan to expand drilling sites in the UK – with Crewe and Nantwich area a potential rich source.

But Conservative-led Cheshire East Council, which covers Chancellor George Osborne’s constituency, said it wants to focus on other options such as geothermal energy around Crewe.

Mr Cameron has offered to increase incentives to local authorities by letting them keep all business rates revenue associated with fracking, rather than the usual 50%.

The industry has also promised communities £100,000 for test drilling at potential sites and a further 1% of revenues if deposits are discovered.

The Cheshire Basin, including land around Nantwich, has been identified in a number of studies such as British Geological Survey, as a potentially rich source of shale gas.

And companies like IGas are now considering applying for a licence to drill in such areas.

Leader of Cheshire East Council Michael JonesBut Cheshire East Council Leader Michael Jones (pictured), who represents Bunbury near Nantwich, confirmed there won’t be any fracking projects in Cheshire East.

“There are parts of the country where local councils will welcome ministers’ offer to benefit from shale gas extraction, however our main focus as a council is on the exciting potential for geothermal technology in Crewe,” he said.

“We believe this is a ‘game-changer’ for the borough, providing renewable heat and energy on a significant scale and we are in talks with the government to help us develop the site.

“Fracking may well be a useful technology for other areas and good luck to them if it is, however the people of Cheshire East have our assurance that there won’t be any in our borough.”

Shale gas is extracted by “fracking” which involves deep-drilling with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release hard-to-reach deposits of shale gas.

The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the north of England.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said there could be “some 20 to 40” exploration wells drilled in the next two to three years, but these would not be “all over the country”.

“You’re not going to see wells in every village or every field,” he added. “You’re going to see 20 to 40 exploration wells and then we’ll see exactly where the companies are most likely to get it out.”

Friends of the Earth say Cllr Jones’ comments are an “embarrassment” to a Conservative-led Government hailing shale gas as the way forward.

FoE North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “This is hugely embarrassing for the Government.

“On the day the Prime Minister announces fracking is the future, the Conservative leader of a council covering his Chancellor’s constituency says it won’t happen there.

“The dash for shale gas is already faltering. Ministers should help councils to develop safe, clean renewable power, not dirty fossil fuels that threaten people’s quality of life and keep the nation hooked on fossil fuels.”

(pic by danielfoster437, Flickr Creative Commons licence)


  1. And where is Michael Jones now? #hmm

  2. Edward Hunter says:

    Oh dear, is the Leader giving promises he can’t keep again? If fracking firms submit an application then they expect their application to be judged on planning grounds and not because the Leader of the Council says “no.” Predetermination of an application is not allowed on planning applications which Cllr Jones has now said will be applied to fracking applications. So Cllr Jones has put Cheshire East in a position where expensive appeals will have to be fought with the Leader himself providing ammuniton to the fracking firms. We should remember Cllr Jones insisted he had a five year supply of building land available but lost that on appeal with the consequence that unsustainable housing applications are being passed to make up the numbers.

  3. Littlest Richard says:

    Are we all ignoring the advanced thermal treatment of waste that has been sneaked into the Council’s statement (as published elsewhere)?

    What’s the impact of this compared to fracking?

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