AN ENERGY company is planning to drill deep holes in the Cheshire countryside to extract gas found in coal.
Scottish firm Composite Energy has applied for planning permission to start drilling on land in Hargrave, Farndon, Upton and Shocklach.
If they are given the green light then engineers will drill up to 1,500m below the surface to mine coal which contains methane.
If the methane can be extracted then the gas can be pumped into the national grid, used by industry or converted into electricity.
The 15m tall drill rigs, which are expected to be in position for up to 60 days with drilling taking place on a 24-hour basis. Once the coal has been taken away for analysis, the site will be returned to farmland within two weeks of work ceasing.
Composite Energy spokesman Peter Reilly said: “They are going to be drilling a test bore hole to find coal and test the methane content.
“They will then decide whether it is sensible to drill three or four wells to see if there is enough to make a commercial development.
“Coal bed methane is well established in the US and Australia, there’s always methane trapped in coal but the question is, can you free it up? That’s what they will be investigating.”
Coal bed methane is already a lucrative energy source for companies in Australia and America and sites across Cheshire and the rest of the UK have been targeted by rival firms.
Composite Energy has licences to drill for coal bed methane across rural areas of the county. Cheshire West and Chester Council confirmed that a test site had already been completed at Caldecott, near Farndon, with planning permission already approved for an additional site.