AN online petition is calling on Wigan Council to reject any future applications to extract shale gas across the borough through fracking.
The petition, called Stop Fracking In Wigan, voices environmental concerns as reasons why hydraulic fracturing processes would “spoil local communities.”
Published on site 38degrees.org.uk, it reads: “Investing in carbon-intensive fossil fuels is a distraction from the need to decarbonise our electricity supply.
“And it’s hazardous. Studies show that fracking pollutes water supplies (with arsenic and lead) and causes earthquakes.”
It also makes reference to “nightmare stories” from the United States, where fracking has become widespread, describing case studies of residents affected by toxic chemicals in the water supply.
The petition, which has attracted 200 signatures in a month, adds: “It cannot happen here. We call on the council to preserve the quality of life of its residents and reject all planning applications for fracking.”
Several energy companies hold licences that cover areas of Wigan borough which would allow them to start fracking operations subject to local authority planning approval.
Earlier this month the Evening Post revealed that major firms IGas and Alkane have no “current” plans within Makerfield and Leigh constituencies.
Borough based fracking protestors have formed the group Frack Free Wigan to show support for campaigners at the nearby Barton Moss site in Salford.
But supporters argue that the controversial process – which involves firing large amounts of water and chemicals at underground shale rock formations – could revitalise the UK economy.
Wigan based expert Dr Chris Green, of G-Frac technologies, said: “I’m surprised that there are so many people who are jumping on the bandwagon saying its such a bad idea when the reality is that we need alternatives.
“We need to be allowed to do the analysis to assess the true potential.
“We know what we’ve got as a resource at this stage but not what we can get out.
“Only then can we say accurately what it will cost and what impact it will have.”
Wigan Council officials have to date received no fracking applications in the borough.