Westhoughton is under threat from a potential new fracking site.
Licences for new exploration sites have been issued across northern England and the East Midlands.
A site in Westhoughton looks likely to be among them. The town is “under assessment” for a potential licence to drill.
IGas, Cuadrilla, Ineos, Total and GDF Suez are among the UK shale companies who secured new exploration licences, some close to their existing rights.
Westhoughton councillor David Wilkinson said: “We must unite against this. Westhoughton does not need or want fracking. Fracking makes profit for big companies but ruins local communities.”
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What is fracking?
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
The process is carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
Source: BBC News
Why is it so controversial?
Fracking will accelerate climate change. The extraction of shale gas is difficult, dirty and inefficient. It is not compatible with the pressing need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Fracking will put communities at risk. Fracking sites and the host of dangerous pollutants used and released by the process and mass lorry movements will blight our countryside.
Fracking will not lower energy bills, although David Cameron chooses to repeat this myth the International Energy Agency predicts the price of gas will rise 40% by 2020.
This BBC News article explains why it is so controversial:
The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.
The first is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost. The second is the worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors. Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.
“It’s always recognised as a potential hazard of the technique”, says Professor Ernie Rutter from the University of Manchester, “But they’re unlikely to be felt by many people and very unlikely to cause any damage.”
Finally, environmental campaigners say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.
“Shale gas is not the solution to the UK’s energy challenges,” said Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth. “We need a 21st century energy revolution based on efficiency and renewables, not more fossil fuels that will add to climate change.”