Fracking could take place across Midlands as temporary ban lifted to tackle energy crisis

Campaigners fear for the future of sites such as Marsh Lane, near Eckington, which has previously been granted permission for exploratory drilling after newly elected PM, Liz Truss has lifted the ban on fracking to help tackle the energy crisis. Credit: PA

Fracking could take place in North East Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, as the Government has announced today it is lifting the ban on the controversial practice.

Campaigners fear for the future of sites such as Marsh Lane, near Eckington, which has previously been granted permission for exploratory drilling, after newly-instated Prime Minister Liz Truss lifted the moratorium, or temporary prohibition, on fracking in a bid to lower energy bills and end the country's reliance on foreign energy imports.

Meanwhile, Misson Springs in Bassetlaw was subject to shale gas tests after Nottinghamshire County Council approved plans in 2016.

Work started the following year, but no tests have taken place there since May 2019.

Councillor Ross Shipman, who leaders the Liberal Democrat group at North East Derbyshire District Council, has warned residents that if they "don't stand up now it's going to be too late".

"The gas that they're going to take out is not going to scratch the surface of bringing down energy bills," he said.

Councillor Shipman commented that a large proportion of the shale gas taken from North East Derbyshire by chemical company INEOS would be used to manufacture specialised plastics and would not even go into the National Grid, thus having little to no effect on energy prices.

It comes as Liz Truss has lifted the prohibition on fracking to help lower energy bills and end reliance on foreign energy imports.

"First and foremost you're going to be burning fossil fuels to create these plastics, you're going to end up with more pollution in the atmosphere," he continued.

"The traffic movements of these sites are quite large and the vehicles themselves are large - they're trucks and tankers."

INSEOS was granted permission to carry out exploratory drilling at the Marsh Lane site in 2018, but failed to do so within the allotted three-year time frame.

Cllr Shipman warned that if a company was successful in finding shale gas beneath North East Derbyshire it would be likely to expand its operation south.

Carol Hutchinson, of Derbyshire Community Mineral Planning Action Group, which has been formed from members of the various anti-fracking groups to monitor the county's mineral plan, expressed concerns over the PM's attitude to fracking.

She said it was unclear whether Ms Truss's pledge to only carry out fracking 'where there is a clear public consensus behind it', meant residents would have a say in the decision or whether it would be left up to councils.

"We have always been concerned at how close it is to people's properties," she said."One of the main things we have been calling for is a set back distance of more than 500 metres from any person's home."

Mrs Hutchinson said the North Yorkshire mineral plan had included this criteria, but she had been 'disappointed' to see no such protection had been included in Derbyshire's draft mineral plan.

"If a precedent has been set we don't know why that can't be used in our area," she commented.

Shale gas fracking involves drilling boreholes into shale rock and pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into them at high pressure to fracture it and release gas or oil.

The decision to prohibit the procedure was made by the Government in 2019 after a scientific study stated 'unacceptable' consequences for those living nearby could not be ruled out following tremors near fracking sites in Lancashire.