Opponents of a test drill site near Upton High School are holding a demonstration there this Sunday (March 23).

Dart Energy intends to set up an exploratory methane borehole on agricultural fields off Duttons Lane, Upton, just 600 metres from the school.

But protesters are in militant mood after descending on the company’s other test drill site near Farndon where a round-the-clock camp has been established, with Bez from the Happy Mondays paying a visit at the weekend.

 

A posting on the Frack Free Upton Facebook page states: “Sunday 23rd March (at 2pm) I would like to organise a pre-rig demonstration/photo shoot opportunity at the Duttons Lane, Upton site to help galvanise our community and share our solidarity: actively showing our collective resistance to the drilling.

“It would be fantastic if we could share this in the local press too. I will create an event tonight, please sign up so that we can see if people are interested/able to make it. The more people and banners the better!”

Environmentalists claim the chemicals in coal-bed methane extraction (CBM) can be just as toxic as those used in the controversial ‘fracking’ process – more commonly associated with the exploitation of shale gas – with the potential for spills and leaks.

And because CBM occurs much closer to the surface than fracking, it is said to be even more likely methane will migrate to the surface.

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Upton High School headteacher Paula Dixon has already voiced fears for her students’ health after the Environment Agency issued a permit for the management of non-hazardous waste and waste gas from the test drill site.

Mrs Dixon, whose school has a Green Flag environmental award, told The Chronicle: “It’s the potential impact on the school and the community – potential noise pollution, air pollution. We have got our playing fields where the students are outdoors a lot of the year round and it’s the impact on health.”

Meanwhile, members of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s strategic planning committee visited the Farndon test drill site yesterday but the council offered reassurances no fresh planning applications relating to that location are in the pipeline. A council spokeswoman said members were checking out various application sites in the area and it was considered useful to visit the test drill location in case any similar schemes were forthcoming in future.