Anti-fracking campaigners rally

Anti-fracking protestors in Wigan
Anti-fracking protestors in Wigan

WIGAN anti-fracking campaigners will make their voices heard at a solidarity rally outside an energy giant’s drill site this weekend.

Protestors from across the country are being urged to gather close to the Barton Moss site in Eccles, the scene of fervent opposition over recent weeks.

And plans are in place for the formation of a borough-based chapter of the Frack Free Greater Manchester group, campaigners told the Evening Post.

A spokesman for the group said: “We’d like to see as many Wigan residents as possible taking part in Sunday’s activities to show opposition outside of the gates of the iGas drill site.

“By attending the solidarity event we want to demonstrate that exploratory drilling at Barton Moss - which is a precursor to a potential double whammy of fracking for shale gas and the extraction of coal bed methane by iGas - is strongly opposed.

“And it is not only by the permanent protectors at the Barton Moss camp but by a broad range of individuals and organisations representative of Greater Manchester populations as a whole.”

Anti-fracking groups in Wigan, Bury and Rochdale are expected to be formed later this month, Frack Free GM said.

Energy company iGas has been granted permission for exploratory drilling at the site in Barton Moss, near Salford, for methane and shale gas.

Campaigners have been at the site since November and this week police searched their camp after a flare was allegedly fired at a police helicopter.

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - involves chemicals and water being blasted into shale rock formations to release the valuable natural resource. Concerns have been voiced that it can contaminate water supplies and cause earth tremors.

Last week, world-renowned fracking expert Dr Chris Green, from Wigan based consultancy G-Frac technologies, said shale gas could “address our energy concerns”.

But he stressed that explorative work needed to be done so that informed decisions could be made on whether to commence fracking.

Several energy firms - including iGas - already hold licences that would allow them to start drilling sites in areas of Wigan borough, subject to planning approval.