An army of activists is knocking door-to-door to gain support for the campaign against unconventional gas extraction in a Chester community.
Frack Free Upton is opposed to potential coalbed methane extraction off Duttons Lane, Upton, where a protest camp has been established on a test drill site.
Now campaigners are calling on hundreds of homes in the Upton area and asking residents to fill in a survey about their views on exploratory drilling.
A spokesperson said: “Frack Free Upton is doing what the borough council and parish council failed to do prior to permission being granted to Dart Energy for exploratory drilling at Duttons Lane, Upton.
“Over the summer, they will canvas the residents of Upton to find out their opinion on exploratory drilling. They will be asking the residents if Upton should be coal bed methane and shale gas free.
“Upton residents have never been invited to a meeting with Dart Energy.
“We are concerned that many residents are not aware of the potential implications of this drilling.
“In Australia, where the drilling is taking place, there have already been many problems. It can lead to pollution of the water supply, air pollution, industrialisation of the countryside and heavy local traffic.
“We are extremely concerned that the council are even considering allowing this to happen so close to the local community.
“The closest residents and Upton High School are only 500m from the drilling site at Duttons Lane. There are actually eight schools within a one mile radius of the site.”
The Upton protest camp recently received Dee 106.3’s Eco Award of the Year at its Local Hero event at Chester’s Mercure Abbott’s Well Hotel.
Former Upton High pupil Beckie Corner and fellow camp stalwart Isabelle Bish, who received the award, said: “Mainstream society has adopted a culture that accepts the exploitation of our beautiful planet.
“However Upton Community Protection Camp represents an exception to this. With the support of the local community, the camp has thrived.”
Protesters tell Cheshire West and Chester Council to stop ‘dragging their feet’ over policy making group
Fracking opponents asked Cheshire West and Chester Council leaders if they were ‘dragging their feet’ over a commitment to hold cross-party meetings to develop the authority’s policy on unconventional gas extraction.
Matt Bryan, who addressed Wednesday’s executive meeting, was among demonstrators to descend on the council’s HQ building back in May as a mark of opposition to the practice, when the all-party working group was also established.
Mr Bryan, who this week addressed councillors during public speaking time, said: “It has been six weeks since the inception of the cross-party working group looking into alternative gas extraction in the area.
“Since that date both France and Germany have cemented moratoriums banning the process and the USA have officially confirmed water contamination across four US states.
“In light of the British Medical Journal’s recent report that we should be expressing grave concern for the industry, is it right that the council have been dragging their feet since the group was formed and, according to Cllr Deynam, have not held a single meeting but have found time to attend a pro-fracking conference?
“What is the date for the first meeting and where will it be held?
“It was agreed to be an open and transparent group with a schedule and time-frame and local residents have been ignored repeatedly for requests of information.
“My final question: are the group being paid extra to look into this? If so how much and how are you going to ensure the tax-payer receives value for money, because at the moment it would appear we are not.”
Council leader Mike Jones, who responded that the first meeting would be on July 23, said ‘quite a lot of work’ had taken place behind-the-scenes to determine the group’s terms of reference.
The first organisational meeting would be in private and all subsequent meetings would be held in public.
Neil McKenna said in an email to The Chronicle: “I am writing to ask why the first meeting of the cross party working group examining unconventional gas and oil extraction – to assist the council when considering unconventional gas testing or extraction applications – is to be a closed meeting.
“I was led to believe by CWaC that the process would be open and transparent from the outset.”