Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Mike Jones believes the controversial ‘fracking’ process will be safe.

Energy companies searching for gas trapped in underground shale are already investigating possible sites at Ince Marshes, Blacon East and Milton Green , near Chester.

The economic benefits could be substantial but environmentalists fear the chemicals pumped into the rock under pressure to release the gas can leak into ground water.

Cllr Jones, speaking in his capacity as chairman of the Local Government Association’s environment and housing board, told BBC Radio Five Live he believed the industry will operate safely.

He said: “We want to ensure that there are proper environmental and  safety rules put in place and we are  confident the regulatory authorities  in the UK will do that very well as  they do with many other industries –  many of them perceived to be very  dangerous but we operate with them cheek by jowl, particularly industrial  areas, because they are safe.”

Prime Minister David Cameron this week pledged that local authorities will keep 100% of business rates revenue collected from fracking developments with affected communities allowed to keep 1% of revenues.

Cllr Jones responded: “Today's announcement from the Prime Minister is a step in the right direction, which will mean that business rates  paid by shale gas firms will help  councils to maintain and improve local services for residents.”

He added: “Given the significant  tax breaks being proposed to drive  forward the development of shale gas  and the impact drilling will have on local communities, these areas  should not be short-changed by fracking schemes.

“One per cent of gross revenues distributed locally is not good  enough; returns should be more in  line with payments across the rest of  the world and be set at between five and 10%.”

Map

Parts of South Wales, Merseyside and Greater Manchester have been licensed by the Government for potential fracking, as this interactive map shows.

This interactive map shows how the Government is considering opening up a huge swathe of central Scotland, virtually all the North of England, much of the West Midlands, bits of North and South Wales, most of London and the South East to potential exploration.

It currently shows licensed areas. You can tick the “areas under consideration” box to see where they are.