Campaigners opposed to fracking for underground gas have been protesting next to ‘thumper trucks’ carrying out seismic tests around Chester.

Tesla Exploration International Ltd is carrying out the testing on behalf of IGas to build up a 2-D geological picture covering 80 linear kilometres between Ellesmere Port and Chester.

On farmland, explosive charges have been used while on roads the  ‘thumper trucks’ have been creating vibrations which, when reflected back, can be measured to generate an image of what lies beneath our feet.

Campaigners from Frack Free Dee have been holding up placards where the lorries have been operating, such as Chester’s Greyhound Retail Park and on Parkgate Road, as well as handing out leaflets.

Tesla  said in its public notice that the survey was being carried out in relation to IGas’s three Petroleum Exploration and Development Licenses 147, 189 and 190, covering Chester, Deeside and Ellesmere Port.  

IGas spokesman Paul Smith explained:  “A 2D seismic survey is an exploration method used to create a map of the structures beneath the earth’s surface. The method sends energy waves into the earth. The different rock formations then reflect the waves back to the surface, where they are recorded over a period of time and converted into a seismic image. Such seismic data will help build a regional geological picture about the areas IGas is currently exploring. Geologists and geophysicists can then interpret this data to identify possible oil and gas deposits. This enables us to make better decisions about where to explore and where not to.”  

Consultations had been undertaken in advance of the seismic testing involving all relevant planning authorities, parish councils and police. The public notice warned motorists: “Please be aware that where vibrator surveying operations are conducted along the highways and roads within the area, minor traffic delays may be encountered.”

The government wants shale and coalbed methane to be  exploited but environmentalists fear  earthquakes, air and water contamination and warn about encouraging further reliance on fossil fuels  given climate change.