Nature concerns over fracking plans

Fracking site in Williston, North Dakota

Fracking site in Williston, North Dakota

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ENERGY giants with fracking licences that encompass parts of St Helens have been urged to come clean over environmental issues.

The borough’s Wildlife Trust is concerned that the controversial process of extracting shale gas could have severe consequences for local wildlife and water quality.

The trust, which includes Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, has written to firms Cuadrilla, iGas and Dart Energy ahead of imminent gas extraction projects in the North West.

Chief executive Anne Selby said: “We will be pressing the government and the three companies hard on these issues and will expect a clear response on how they will handle these.

“As a Wildlife Trust, we are here to protect nature, but our purpose also includes sustainability and adapting to climate change.”

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is the process of pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into underground rock to release valuable deposits of shale gas.

It has split opinion due to reported links to earth tremors and other environmental risks although its economic benefits have been heralded as capable of reviving the UK’s ailing energy market.

Dart Energy has rights to an L-shaped area between Ashton, Golborne and Newton-le-Willows.

The Wildlife Trust has highlighted its main concerns including that drilling sites could damage areas important for wildlife or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

It also fears that the water and gas used in the extraction process could have adverse effects on local water sources.

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experts claim.