THE entire landscape of Wigan borough is now covered by fracking licences.
The government has given the green light to 93 onshore licences today with one covering the vast majority of Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield constituencies.
Neither MPs or the public have received assurances (on safety)Wigan MP Lisa Nandy
Each hands exclusivity for gas and oil exploration but final approval still remains with the local authority.
However, concerns have been voiced that ministers could force through fracking operations, over-riding community wishes if required.
Areas on the outskirks of the borough had already been part of previous licensing rounds but the latest approval - given to energy firm Aurora - covers Wigan town centre and the vast majority of the borough.
Wigan MP and shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy is at the forefront of Labour calls for a moratorium on the controversial process.
She said: “We should have a moratorium on fracking in Britain until we can be sure it is safe and won’t present intolerable risks to our environment.
“Neither MPs or the public have received these assurances yet ministers are ignoring people’s legitimate concerns and imposing fracking on communities.”
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Last month we set out the vital role gas will play in the UK’s transition to a low-carbon future.
“The licences offered today move us a step closer - driving forwards this industry which will provide secure, home-grown energy to hard-working families and businesses for decades to come.”
Hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - involves firing water and chemicals into underground shale rock formations to release natural gas deposits.
Environmentalists argue it can pollute water supplies and cause earth tremors. Although the government is understood to be in favour because of the potential to unlock huge gas reserves.
Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue MP said: “The government’s controversial attempt to establish a shale gas industry in the UK on a reluctant public took another giant step forward today.
“This week I voted to stop Fracking under our precious national parks only for the government to use its payroll vote to sneak through this measure with no debate.
“I am not convinced that the necessary safeguards are in place to protect our environment and would therefore oppose any planning applications that may, in the future, follow the award of this latest round of licenses covering my constituency.”