Campaigners opposed to fracking for gas and oil will gather outside Cheshire West and Chester Council’s headquarters this evening (Monday September 29) .

Frack Free Upton is concerned about plans for a coalbed methane (CBM) test drill in a field off Duttons Lane, Upton, fearing it will lead to unconventional gas extraction, possibly involving hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking’.

Demonstrators, holding banners and placards, will descend on HQ about 6pm for what is described as “a peaceful protest”, ahead of the council’s all-party unconventional gas/oil extraction working group which meets at 6.30pm. Opponents fear the impact on the environment and climate change.

A spokesperson for Frack Free Upton said: “ The ‘Report of Findings’ to be produced by the working group may potentially influence the future of CBM/shale gas drilling in the whole of Cheshire West, therefore we are calling on all residents of Cheshire West to take time out of their busy schedules to ensure that CWaC council are in no doubt that the residents are opposed to the drilling.”

At the first meeting of the working group, held in private, it was agreed its investigations would run independently of the council’s decision making process for determining planning applications.

Planning applications made to the council would not be put on hold – as this was not legally possible – nor would the Local Plan timetable be delayed until such time as the recommendations of the working group were known. Its findings would help inform the approach to be taken through the Local Plan Part Two to inform land allocations and detailed policies in relation to proposals for conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction.

Various speakers representing Frack Free groups within Cheshire West have asked to address tonight’s meeting during public speaking time.

Official speakers include Duarte Figueira, Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil, Department of Energy & Climate Change, Gordon Whitaker or Steven Molyneux from the Environment Agency, Tony Almond of the Health & Safety Executive and Fiona Hore, development planning manager at Cheshire West and Chester Council.

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