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Wirral safeguard pledge over controversial gas extraction
Controversial “fracking” for shale gas will be banned in Wirral until environmental safeguards are 100% secure council leader Cllr Phil Davies has pledged.
Wirral could be sitting on almost two trillion cubic feet of the gas and an expert report in the past few weeks indicated that well-regulated operations could go ahead in the UK as the risks of water contamination and damaging earthquakes were "very low."
The shale gas hydraulic fracturing operations - known as fracking – had to be suspended last year when fears were raised that they could be linked with earth tremors in the Blackpool area.
Councillor Davies said: “I am still not completely convinced on this technology.
"I would be concerned about the disruption and nuisance that would be caused by the high-pressure drilling operations that would need to be carried out if this resource was mined in Wirral.
“I have spoken to council officers about whether there is complete certainty that it would not result in any seismic activity as happened in the Fylde area.
“Then there is the potential pollution of water courses.”
He added: “We passed a resolution at council last year saying we were opposed to any application by the company doing this work until we were completely satisfied about the safety of the process and the risk of any adverse environmental impact.”
Councillor Davies said he had taken soundings among officers and their recommendation had been that Wirral Council should not give the green light for the process to be carried out in the peninsula.
He pledged: “Until I am 100% sure about the safety and environmental aspects I am not prepared to approve it.”
Energy exploration company IGas has licences covering an area between Manchester and the Mersey/Dee estuaries to extract gas from onshore underground coal seams, including locations in Liverpool and Wirral.
The company estimates that £1.95 trillion cubic feet of shale gas could lie trapped beneath Wirral alone.
A recent review of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure liquid pumped deep underground to split shale rock and release gas, found the process to be undertaken safely in the North west if it was done to the highest standards and was regulated.