Opponents of fracking descended on a Cheshire village at the weekend with another demonstration planned this Sunday.

Dart Energy (West England) Ltd has permission for exploratory drilling for coal-bed methane at Marsh House Lane, Kings Marsh, Farndon.

A number of campaigners, under the new banner of ‘Frack Free Dee’, joined locals in a peaceful protest at the site concerned at what they call an “environmentally-damaging process” – although hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking’, is not be involved in this case.

The group, which included people opposed to the same company’s exploratory drill site in Upton, Chester, claim methane “contaminates water and air and produces huge amounts of waste”.

Protester Kim Paterson said: “As a Farndon resident I am outraged at the prospect of the village and a huge area surrounding it being plundered by an Australian company funded by a French company through a process, the dangers of which are clearly uncontrollable. This whole situation is wrong at every level from the instinctive to the academic – it must be stopped.”

Simon Bazley, a member of Frack Free Dee, said: “I am increasingly frustrated by the fact that these damaging procedures are being given permission to occur.

“We need to protect the catchment area for our children. In order to raise awareness about these damaging processes we are standing shoulder to shoulder with other communities who are also being threatened by these attacks.”

A Dart Energy spokesman told The Chronicle previously: “The purpose of the well is to extract a core (sample) from the coal seam in order to test the methane content in a laboratory.”

“Should the results of the exploration well indicate suitable coal thickness and gas content then Dart would consider moving into the appraisal phase on a new site to determine the ability of the coals to actually flow gas.

“Successful appraisal results could lead to significant investment locally with upwards of �100m being spent to move a project through to the development phase.”

The spokesman added: “Due to the nature of the coals in the UK, hydraulic fracturing is not considered to be a technical or commercially viable solution.”

At 1pm this Sunday (March 16), campaigners will return to the Farndon site in bigger numbers under the slogan: “We want green fields, not gas fields!”.