Campaigners opposed to fracking will descend on Cheshire West and Chester Council’s executive meeting tomorrow evening (Wednesday, April 30).

That’s because the executive will meet at HQ from 5.30pm to discuss setting up a cross-party working group to enable the council to fully understand the unconventional oil and gas extraction, often referred to as ‘fracking’, which is short for hydraulic fracturing.

The issue has come to fore because energy companies are eyeing up various sites across the borough including Ince Marshes for shale gas plus Farndon and Upton for coal bed methane.

Activists from a protest camp at the proposed test drill site in Duttons Lane, Upton are expected to be among those in attendance.

Campaigner Richard Atkinson, from Boughton, said: “We are concerned that the council is proposing to establish a small, secretive group of councillors to investigate fracking and related techniques and establish council policy.

“We are demanding a public process of enquiry, open to evidence from all sides. And we are demanding that the council put on hold all fracking related planning applications until this process is completed.”

Mr Atkinson said “a substantial number of people” were due to attend and many had requested to speak.

Part of the text, emailed to the council in advance, asks whether the proposed working group will consider evidence from opponents as well as industry.

It adds: “Since the council now accepts the need for fuller understanding of the issues, will the council now adopt a policy of not approving any further planning applications involving exploration or extraction of gas or oil, or preparation for these processes, to enable a full and informed public debate to take place before any policy is adopted?”