The frontline of shale gas extraction in England moves to Cheshire this week with the beginning of a public inquiry into shale gas flow testing in Ellesmere Port at Chester Town Hall.
Local residents will gather outside the town hall to highlight the continued and overwhelming opposition to fracking in the UK. They will be supported by frack-free groups from across the country.
Cheshire West and Chester council last year rejected plans from oil and gas company IGas to ‘flow test’ for shale gas at a wellsite in Ellesmere Port, following thousands of objections from the public. The public inquiry is being held after IGas appealed against the decision.
The public inquiry is significant for the future of shale gas development in the North West. Although several shale gas wells have been drilled in Cheshire, Ellesmere Port would be the first flow test site in the county, if permission to go ahead was granted.
The inquiry, which is scheduled to last for six days, will hear from a range of experts in fields such as climate change, air quality, geology and public health, against the proposal.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth will speak at the inquiry to highlight the harmful impacts the site would have on air quality - with residents of Ellesmere Port already suffering illegal levels of pollution - and its incompatibility with action on climate change.
Helen Rimmer, Friends of the Earth North West campaigner, said: “Thousands of local residents and the local council have clearly said no to shale gas testing in Cheshire, while climate scientists warn that fossil fuels must be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“Residents in Ellesmere Port already suffer from poor air - the last thing they need is another polluting industry on their doorstep.
“Instead of forcing dirty fracking on communities, the government should back clean renewable energy which could create thousands of new jobs in Cheshire.”
Marianne Brooker is a commissioning editor for The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth.