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Guilden Sutton survey shows 76% of residents oppose fracking

Villagers fear their area will be targeted by energy firm

Members of Frack Free Guilden Sutton.

More than three-quarters of adults in a village being targeted by an energy company are opposed to fracking, according to a professionally conducted survey.

Seismic testing was carried out in Guilden Sutton, near Chester, last October on behalf of energy firm IGas who also posted information leaflets to householders and held an awareness session at Chester Rugby Club in Vicars Cross.

This prompted the establishment of Frack Free Guilden Sutton who recently conducted a survey to gauge the public mood in anticipation of plans being lodged for fracking ‘in the fields surrounding the village’.

Related story: Frodsham anti-fracking protest outside shale gas meeting

More than 75% of adults responded to the survey (848), with 76% of all respondents saying it was a bad idea. Only 9% felt it was a good idea.

A third party data statistician supervised the survey process and included balanced uGov shale gas fracking arguments. It was delivered by group members to every household in the village and collected in sealed envelopes.

Sheila Wigley, of Frack Free Guilden Sutton, said: “The people of Guilden Sutton have made their voices heard and the results show there is no social licence in Guilden Sutton for fracking.

"Many residents commented on their surveys that they were very worried by the wildlife and environmental impacts including the risk of earthquakes with many saying that their house had started shaking during the seismic survey process.

Related story: Chester 'fracking' sites are near earthquake epicentre

“A drop in house prices was also a big concern. Lots of people who were unsure commented that not enough was known at this time about the fracking process.”

The anti-fracking group says Guilden Sutton Parish Council is keen to understand the views of local residents through the survey but have to remain impartial.

Graphic by John Murray showing the proximity of two potential 'fracking' sites at Bridge Trafford and Morley Hall and the epicentre of the 1750 earthquake which occurred on the outskirts of Chester.

Neighbours in Mickle Trafford are now being helped to carry out a similar survey of their own because there are potential fracking sites at nearby Barrow and Bridge Trafford where a protest camp has sprung up on the A56.

A long-running camp at Duttons Lane, Upton, on another site targeted by IGas was cleared by bailiffs on January 12 but the company abandoned its test drill plans just three weeks later.

Members of the Frack Free Group met IGas in the village and say they were informed the company would ‘definitely be drilling in Cheshire’. The location of the drilling would be dependent on a number of factors including the results of the seismic surveys and local planning.

Related story: Anti-fracking campaigners contemplate new protest camp at Bridge Trafford

Spokeswoman Mrs Wigley added: “Currently we are awaiting news on the results of the seismic surveys. IGas originally told us the geographical seismic test results would be known last March and that they had a duty to let local residents know what the results are. It’s now June and we are still waiting.”

Campaigners are encouraging villagers to switch to ‘green’ energy suppliers.

An IGas spokesman said: "IGas successfully completed a significant 3D seismic acquisition programme in the North West covering an area of 110km².

"We are now in receipt of some of the preliminary results and the processing and interpretation phase has commenced. As reported in our results for the nine months to end of December, this is likely to complete in the third quarter of 2016.”

Anyone wishing to find out more about Frack Free Guilden Sutton can visit the website or email frackfreeguildensutton@gmail.com.

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