Borough highlighted in fracking plan map


AREAS of Wigan borough could be offered up to energy companies as part of plans to exploit shale gas reserves through fracking.

A recent government commissioned report found that more than half of Britain could be used for exploration as ministers “step up the search” for energy reserves.

The report - produced by engineering consultancy firm, Amec - said communities near to drilling sites could face increased traffic but environmental impacts would be “manageable.”

Areas to the north and south of the borough are already included in licences held by energy giants.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said community concerns about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing will be dealt with at local level.

He said: “We have a robust system of regulations and, provided companies have gone through due process, the map shows there is a huge amount of shale gas. What’s important for public confidence is to show the system is robust.”

A British Geological Survey report last year revealed that the north of England lies above vast amounts of shale gas that could supply the UK for decades.

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

He said: “We need to be allowed to do the analysis to assess the true potential (of the gas reserves in the North of England).

“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.”

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - involves chemicals and water being blasted into shale rock formations to release the valuable natural resource.

But concerns have been voiced that the process can cause earth tremors and contaminate water supplies because of the amount of liquid used in the process.

The Amec- report, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said 2,880 wells could be drilled across the UK, creating between 16,000 to 32,000 jobs.

Energy firms Cuadrilla, Dart Energy and iGas already hold licences that would allow them to start drilling sites in areas of the borough subject to planning approval.