CAMPAIGNERS who are opposed to fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane extraction descended on Wigan to voice their concerns.
The protest in the town centre on Friday (October 25) saw the arrival of high profile anti-fracking campaigner Gayzer Frackman, who is undertaking a 12-day walk to Downing Street from his hometown Lytham, near Blackpool.
Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is the process of pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into underground rock to release valuable deposits of shale gas.
Speaking at the protest, Mr Frackman said: “It is important that people find out the facts about fracking before they sign up to it, because contrary to what the Government and fracking industry are saying, the process isn’t safe and never can be.
“It also won’t reduce our energy bills, and it won’t create many jobs either.”
Mr Frackman has been active in opposing the controversial fracking process since April 2011, when his home was damaged by an earthquake, which seismologists have since said, was most probably caused by test fracking undertaken by the energy company Cuadrilla close to Blackpool at that time.
Wigan borough is in the latest geographical area being investigated by gas companies. Campaigners also met up after the protest at The Anvil pub in Dorning Street, to listen to a talk by Mr Frackman.
The borough’s Wildlife Trust is also concerned that the controversial process of extracting shale gas could have severe consequences for local wildlife and water quality.
The trust, which includes Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, has written to firms Cuadrilla, iGas and Dart Energy ahead of imminent gas extraction projects in the North West.
Chief executive Anne Selby said: “We will be pressing the government and the three companies hard on these issues and will expect a clear response on how they will handle these.
“As a Wildlife Trust, we are here to protect nature, but our purpose also includes sustainability and adapting to climate change.”
It has split opinion due to reported links to earth tremors and other environmental risks although its economic benefits have been heralded as capable of reviving the UK’s ailing energy market.
Cuadrilla, the company that has been running fracking tests in the Blackpool area in recent years, holds a licence that covers areas in the north of the borough including Standish, Appley Bridge and Wrightington.
While Dart Energy has rights to an L-shaped area between Ashton, Golborne and Newton-le-Willows.
And iGas has a licence that covers 300sq miles including areas to the south and east of Ashton and Leigh just north of the M62 corridor.