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Frodsham holds 'important' public meeting on fracking

Graham Evans MP hosted the Q and A for the community to raise its concerns about shale gas exploration

The panel at the Frodsham public meeting on fracking hosted by Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans (third from left)

Community concerns about fracking in Frodsham were debated at an ‘important’ public meeting.

Weaver Vale MP Graham Evans hosted a Q and A with a panel of guest speakers for the town at Helsby High School on January 22.

Frodsham and Helsby, as well as wider parts of Cheshire West, are now covered by a licence which would allow exploratory investigations to find out if shale gas exploration is possible.

Mr Evans has said before he understands the need for fracking, but would prioritise the ‘health and safety’ of people in Weaver Vale.

He said: “I see the reasoning behind it as we do need to ensure we secure our energy supplies.

“However, I could not and would not agree to anything which would affect the health, safety and wellbeing of my constituents as well as their homes, businesses or our natural environment.”

Mr Evans said shale reserves ‘offered a stepping stone in our transition to a low-carbon future’ during a House of Commons debate on the UK’s onshore oil and gas on January 26.

Graham Evans MP at the Daresbury Laboratory

Concerns have been raised about the environmental impact of fracking, including its affects on water supplies.

Anyone who wanted to attend had to pre-register with a Frodsham address, with an eventual crowd of about 150 turning out for the meeting.

The panel included representatives from chemicals group Ineos, Public Health England and the Environment Agency.

There was also Frodsham-born chartered surveyor Edward Cottrell, sustainable engineering Professor Robert Jackson and Trevor Sexty, from the Health and Safety Executive.

Frack Free Dee spokesman Thomas Miller said: “Several members of Frack Free Dee from the local area attended Friday’s meeting.

“The panel of eight included only one voice against the industry, but Professor Robert Jackson gave firm evidence of the substantial risks to public health and the food chain.

“The public asked many probing and well-informed questions and the level of frustration among them with the platitudes and evasions they received increased as the evening wore on.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Labour cabinet have been accused of a u-turn over plans for a blanket ban on fracking in the borough.

Any future applications for test drilling or fracking would be decided on by the planning committee, with both Mr Evans and Frodsham councillor Andrew Dawson saying they would go to a public consultation.

Seismic tests have already taken place across Cheshire West on behalf of IGas Energy to see if shale gas is present underground.

A similar Q and A took place for Helsby, Alvanley and Manley on November 27 last year.

Mr Evans said it was ‘important to host an informative and balanced meeting’ for Frodsham and he was ‘pleased’ with the turnout.

He said: “I have already written to the Minister with various concerns I have and I shall write again with questions and concerns following tonight’s meeting.

“In addition, I have recently spoken in a House of Commons debate on the role of UK manufacturing in the sector.

“While we can all appreciate the potential benefits of fracking in terms of a cleaner energy and job creation the safety and wellbeing of residents and the environment is paramount.”

Did you attend the meeting? Did it ease your concerns over fracking? Please let us know in the comments below.

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