Energy companies may be eyeing up possible fracking sites in Cheshire West, but so far no planning applications have come forward to extract shale gas.

In the past 12 months firms  searching for gas trapped in underground shale have highlighted  possible sites at Ince Marshes,  Blacon East and Milton Green , near Chester.

But Cheshire West and Chester Council has issued a statement to clarify the situation after being contacted by residents concerned  that fracking was imminent in  their areas.

Cllr Stuart Parker, executive  member for the economy, said: “It  is important that everyone should  understand that should we get any  such applications they would have  to be treated as planning issues  and be subject to the normal process of any planning application.

“The council has no specific policy on fracking and would have to of course consider very carefully the environmental implications when dealing with any such an application.”

The council says at Ince Marshes, exploratory drilling for coal-bed methane has revealed shale gas but no application has so far been received for permission to extract.

At Milton Green/Chilton exploratory drilling took place in 1965  but no application has been received since then.

Similarly, in the 1980s, drilling took place at the Blacon East site –  just over the border in Flintshire –  but so far there have been no further developments.

Permission for exploratory drilling for coalbed methane has  been granted at Dutton’s Lane,  Upton Heath and Kingsmarsh,  Farndon , but no application for extraction has yet been received.

Cllr Parker said as well as planning permission, any proposals for shale gas extraction would also be regulated by and need consent from bodies such as the Department of Energy and Climate and  Environment Agency.