Shropshire anti-fracking campaigners call for permanent ban across UK

The leader of a campaign group and a councillor who persuaded planners to refuse permission for exploratory drilling in Shropshire say the UK fracking moratorium needs to be permanent.

Anti-fracking protest at Duddleston Village Hall
Anti-fracking protest at Duddleston Village Hall

Chris Hesketh from Frack Free Dudleston – a village near Ellesmere – together with Steve Davenport, the local county councillor, say allowing fracking in Britain will distract from actually tackling the energy crisis.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged to lift the ban on fracking in England, with the aim of opening up access to Britain’s onshore natural gas resources.

Mr Hesketh and Councillor Davenport said the decision taken by Shropshire Council over north Shropshire seven years ago should be applied across the UK.

Councillor Steve Davenport

“Shropshire had three locations with planning permission for unconventional gas extraction and then in 2014 Dart Energy sought to renew one of the planning permissions in Dudleston,” they said.

“The local community was united, and actively opposed to their plans. Shropshire Council listened carefully to the arguments and decided that permission should be refused.”

In 2015 Dart Energy was sold to iGas and then iGas appealed against the planning decision. But six months later, iGas withdrew its planning appeal on the grounds that the geology would not work.

“All the way through the campaign, the local group was saying that the geology would never allow gas to be extracted, but it took well over a year for sense to prevail," said Mr Hesketh and Councillor Davenport.

“There was almost certainly gas in the ground, but the highly fractured nature of the ground means that the technology is incapable of extracting it. That same point applies across the whole of the UK.”

They said that even some pro-frackers now admit the geology of the UK is too fragmented for extraction to work.

“There are many other reasons why fracking is something we can’t support, including the earthquakes, health impacts, ground and water contamination," they added. "Also carbon emissions are equivalent to burning coal.

"However, the simple fact that fracking will consume lots of money and fail to produce any gas must surely be reason enough to decide that the UK fracking moratorium needs to become a permanent ban.”

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