Anti-fracking group set up

Fracking protesters
Fracking protesters

WIGANERS opposed to fracking operations coming to the borough have formed a campaign group to make their voices heard.

Several licences held by energy giants cover parts of Wigan but as yet no planning permission has been granted to explore potential shale gas reserves.

And members of Frack Free Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield are hoping to keep it that way.

Organiser Stephen Hall said: “The Frack Free movement has plans to set up groups in every area of Greater Manchester and the Wigan chapter will be holding a meeting in the near future.

“A number of members have attended the protest rallies over at Barton Moss and there is plenty of support for the movement.

“The big thing that we will be pushing is even if it was safe to do, a lot more jobs would be created by investing in renewable energy rather than fracking.

“The figures the government are suggesting it could create have been around 74,000 but other reports have said it will be more like 14,000 – that is a big difference.

“It is debatable whether any local jobs would be created at all. Specialist teams would be brought in to work on the sites, the only jobs that would be available would be to fix the roads that the trucks would destroy.”

Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced tax incentives for local authorities who approve fracking plans –allowing them to claim 100 per cent of business rates from drilling operations instead of the usual 50 per cent.

Mr Cameron was greeted on a visit to Wigan last year by anti-fracking campaigners.

Hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking – is the process of firing large amounts of water and chemicals into underground shale rock formations to release natural gas.

Environmental concerns have been voiced that the process can lead to earth tremors and contamination of the water supply.

Mr Hall added: “The Government needs to invest more in better insulating people’s homes, that would create more jobs. There is not even a guarantee that shale gas would bring down energy prices. And this is all assuming that the process is 100 per cent safe, which it is not. We are in the process of organising meetings, there are a lot of people active already within the campaign group.”

Wigan Council has reiterated that their stance on fracking would adhere to governmental regulations and that environmental aspects would be seriously considered if any applications are made.