FEARS have been raised over proposals to test drill in a Chester village for methane gas.
Residents in Upton are concerned that the planned testing could lead to controversial fracking for shale gas at the site.
But council bosses have reassured householders that the company behind the plans would have to apply for and be granted permission to extract shale gas through the practise of fracking in the future.
Dart Energy (West England) Limited have applied to the Environment Agency for permission to dig an exploratory bore hole to test the land, on Long Lane, north of Upton Grange, for coalbed methane.
While Dart Energy only has permission to explore the suitability of the site for coalbed methane extraction and have not expressed a desire as yet to extract shale gas from the area, fears have been raised that this could eventually lead to fracking on the site.
A public exhibition was held in Wrexham in November regarding Dart Energy’s plans for similar sites in North Wales.
One attendee at the event, Paul Beer, got in touch with the Leader to share his concerns for the site and the potential hazards of fracking to extract shale gas.
Mr Beer said: Although the exhibitions were indeed open to the public, they were not advertised anywhere and very few people knew anything about them.
“None of the residents I have spoken to had any idea that their neighbourhood was going to be turned into a gas drilling site. Again, we have had public information and notices that nobody had known about. Why the secrecy?”
“In America, living next to fracking sites has decreased house prices by up to 80 per cent, so there is this to consider besides any environmental impact that it will have.
“Speaking to the geologist at the exhibitions, I was informed that Dart has a PEDL licence firstly for the coalbed methane - although this is not fracking. Shale rock that is further below that level requires fracking to extract.”
Fracking has become commonplace in the USA and has helped to revolutionise the energy industry, but the method has come in for concern over its environmental impacts, which include the possibility of small earth tremors due and potential contamination of groundwater due to potentially carcinogenic chemicals displaced during the technique.
The planning application submitted by Dart Energy to the Environment Agency has not yet been determined and the consultation period remains open until Monday, January 6, 2014.
Cheshire West and Chester Council spokesperson, Rachel Ashley, said that Dart Energy had only submitted an application to test the ground at Upton Grange for coalbed methane and that any further drilling would require the appropriate permission.
She said: “The company have submitted an application but it is simply for an exploratory bore hole to test the earth for coalbed methane. There is no application for the extraction of shale gas and, in any case, there would be a new application put in and put through the appropriate consultation processes.”
Dart Energy were unavailable for comment.