Fracking coming to Wigan?

A worker at Cuadrilla Resources' fracking plant near Preston
A worker at Cuadrilla Resources' fracking plant near Preston

BATTLE plans could soon be drawn up after it was revealed that shale gas could be extracted from under Wigan using the controversial process of fracking.

UK firm IGas announced this week that the North West holds more reserves of the natural resource than was first thought.

And areas to the north and south of the borough are understood to fall within the boundaries of licences held by energy giants to start the underground extraction works.

Fracking – the process of pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into underground rock to release the gas – has split opinion due to its reported link to earth tremors and other environmental risks.

But the process has triggered hopes it could revive the UK’s energy market and create thousands of jobs to boost local economies. IGas’s licence covers 300 square miles incorporating a large area of Cheshire but is also thought to include areas to the south and east of Ashton and Leigh north of the M62 corridor.

Meanwhile Cuadrilla Resources, which has been running tests for fracking in the Blackpool area in recent years, holds a licence that covers the north of the borough including Standish, Appley Bridge and Wrightington.

And Dart Energy, which is concentrating the majority of its gas extraction in North Wales, also holds a licence covering an L-shaped area between Ashton, Golborne and Newton-le-Willows. The news that shale gas extraction and its knock-on effects could come to Wigan borough has brought with it optimism from industry experts although the safety concerns have triggered warnings from authorities and environment groups.