A petition to save Sherwood Forest from fracking, signed by over a quarter of a million people, is being handed to the Environment Minister today.

Local residents and environmentalists are opposing plans for shale gas exploration but Chemical company INEOS says "it's not fracking in the area and the campaign groups are alarming the public unnecessarily."

But what exactly is fracking and why do so many people object to it?

  • What is Fracking?

Fracking is the process that involves drilling into the ground, then pumping in water and chemicals to release gas.The video below is courtesy of the Department of Energy & Climate Change and shows the process in action:

  • Why frack?

The government believes that shale gas - or fracking - has the potential to provide the UK with greater energy security, growth and jobs.

  • How much shale gas is there in the UK?

It is not possible to estimate exactly how much there is in the UK until there has been greater exploration and testing.

However, scientists from the British Geological Survey have estimated there is 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Bowland-Hodder shale in northern England alone.

  • What are the concerns?

There are concerns the process may cause earthquakes, and the chemicals could contaminate local ground water – affecting what comes out of people’s taps.

Opponents also fear an increase in noise and traffic pollution, and the pursuit for a new source of gas - a fossil fuel - is not compatible with efforts to tackle climate change.

For more information, The Department of Energy and Climate Change have produced several guideson fracking.

Surveys are potentially a first step towards searching for shale gas beneath the legendary home of Robin Hood. Credit: ITV News.

A spokesperson for The Forestry Commission, the department responsible for all of the country's forests said in response to the Sherwood Forest proposals:

"The UK will use oil and gas for many decades and using the resources we have in the UK would give us better security over our energy supplies and make us less reliant on imports. INEOS has a licence from the Oil and gas Authority (OGA) for ‘onshore hydrocarbon exploration, appraisal and extraction’. Forestry Commission England will consider any applications from licensed operators to investigate, explore or extract on land we manage."

The Forestry Commission.