BY RUTH HAYHURST ON OCTOBER 5, 2017
The shale company, IGas Energy, announced today it wanted to drill and frack a new well on the edge of the Ince marshes in Cheshire.
The company said it had begun the first stage in applying for planning permission by submitting a scoping request to Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The proposal – the first for fracking in Cheshire – is for IGas’s existing Ince Marshes site on the edge of Elton. It is about 5km east of Ellesmere Port, where the company is already seeking consent to test another well, attracting hundreds of objections. It is also close to the site of a geological observatory, announced by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) last month, which will investigate the impacts of fracking and shale gas developments.
A local campaign group, Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby, said this evening it was “incredibly concerned”, though not surprised, to hear the news from IGas.
“Given the recent announcement by energy research company Protos/NERC regarding the development of an enormous site on the Ince Marshes, and IGas’ existing planning application at Ellesmere Port, we are in no doubt that the intention is to develop fracking on a significant scale in this area of Cheshire.
“Our efforts to prevent this damaging industry will continue and will no doubt gain in strength over the coming weeks and months.”
“Predominantly industrial area”
IGas said the site had been chosen after what it called “thorough analysis” of 3D seismic data and logs for existing wells.
“[It] is located within a predominantly industrial area close to businesses which use high volumes of gas. We want to further test the various rock formations, including shale, for detailed information and to establish the quantity and quality of natural gas within the rocks.”
“The proposed development would be for one new well, initially to be drilled vertically and then horizontally. We also intend to hydraulically fracture and flow test the target formation, to assess the flow potential of the well.”
The company’s chief operating officer, John Blaymires, said:
“This area of Cheshire has a proud industrial heritage, with excellent utility infrastructure and transport networks in place. There are also a number of significant employers in the area whose businesses rely on gas, which is something that we could potentially supply in the future, directly from the area.”
Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby said:
“Residents are justifiably concerned about the detrimental and proven impacts on the environment and human health as a result of the fracking industry.
“If these plans go ahead communities in this area will not be immune to the considerable increase in traffic from HGV movements, risk of water and land contamination, further reduction in air quality, and the irrevocable industrialisation of the surrounding countryside with the many hundreds of wells that necessitate such a land hungry industry.”
The group criticised IGas’s description of the area as predominantly industrial:
“Have they no knowledge of the area with its beautiful countryside and small villages that will suffer greatly from the impact of over industrialisation and the further pollution of our atmosphere?”
Mr Blaymires said that eight out of ten UK homes used gas for heating, 61% used it for cooking and up to 50% of our electricity is derived from gas.
“It is clear that the UK needs a secure supply of gas as a bridging fuel until renewable sources can provide sufficient quantum and stability of energy for society’s needs.
“We are committed to meeting that need in a safe and environmentally responsible way and plan to keep local people abreast of our plans every step of the way.”
But Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby responded:
“Claims that this source of power will provide a bridge until renewable energy sources are provided are without foundation.
“We need to reduce our carbon emissions now to slow the effect of climate change and we need to develop without delay renewable energy sources including wind, solar and tidal. Any investment must be made to achieve this goal.”
It accused IGas of caring only about its investors and said the company’s promises had a “very hollow ring”.
“Their continued attempts to exploit this resource at the detrimental cost to public health and the environment as well as to wild life in the area was expected.
“It will though only serve to make our local campaigners, who are from all walks of life, and who represent the views of the vast majority, more determined to stop it from happening.”
IGas has said it would participate in a community liaison group and take feedback from local residents.
The company has organised a public drop-in exhibition on 18 October 2017 from 3.30pm-7.30pm, at Elton Community Centre, School Lane, Elton, Chester CH2 4PU.
Surveys of residents in nearby Frodsham and Helsby have recorded a majority against fracking.