Campaigners vow to fight fracking as IGas announces new plans for Cheshire

Ince Marshes Elton IGas

Ince Marshes,  Cheshire, the location of new IGas fracking plans. (See orange square for approximate location) Map: UK Onshore Geophysical Library

The shale company, IGas Energy, announced today it wanted to drill and frack a new well on the edge of the Ince marshes in Cheshire.

The company said it had begun the first stage in applying for planning permission by submitting a scoping request to Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The proposal is the first for fracking by IGas and would be the first for fracking in Cheshire.

It is for IGas’s existing Ince Marshes site on the edge of Elton. The site is about 5km east of Ellesmere Port, where the company is already seeking consent to test another well, attracting hundreds of objections. It is also close to the site of a geological observatory, announced by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) last month, which will investigate the impacts of fracking and shale gas developments.

A local campaign group, Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby, said this evening it was “incredibly concerned”, though not surprised, to hear the news from IGas.

“Given the recent announcement by energy research company Protos/NERC regarding the development of an enormous site on the Ince Marshes, and IGas’ existing planning application at Ellesmere Port, we are in no doubt that the intention is to develop fracking on a significant scale in this area of Cheshire.

“Our efforts to prevent this damaging industry will continue and will no doubt gain in strength over the coming weeks and months.”

“Predominantly industrial area”

IGas said the site had been chosen after what it called “thorough analysis” of 3D seismic data and logs for existing wells.

“[It] is located within a predominantly industrial area close to businesses which use high volumes of gas. We want to further test the various rock formations, including shale, for detailed information and to establish the quantity and quality of natural gas within the rocks.”

IGas said:

“The proposed development would be for one new well, initially to be drilled vertically and then horizontally. We also intend to hydraulically fracture and flow test the target formation, to assess the flow potential of the well.”

The company’s chief operating officer, John Blaymires, said:

“This area of Cheshire has a proud industrial heritage, with excellent utility infrastructure and transport networks in place. There are also a number of significant employers in the area whose businesses rely on gas, which is something that we could potentially supply in the future, directly from the area.”

“Irrevocably industrialisation”

Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby said:

“Residents are justifiably concerned about the detrimental and proven impacts on the environment and human health as a result of the fracking industry.

“If these plans go ahead communities in this area will not be immune to the considerable increase in traffic from HGV movements, risk of water and land contamination, further reduction in air quality, and the irrevocable industrialisation of the surrounding countryside with the many hundreds of wells that necessitate such a land hungry industry.”

The group criticised IGas’s description of the area as predominantly industrial:

“Have they no knowledge of the area with its beautiful countryside and small villages that will suffer greatly from the impact of over industrialisation and the further pollution of our atmosphere?”

Bridging fuel?

Mr Blaymires said that eight out of ten UK homes used gas for heating, 61% used it for cooking and up to 50% of our electricity is derived from gas.

“It is clear that the UK needs a secure supply of gas as a bridging fuel until renewable sources can provide sufficient quantum and stability of energy for society’s needs.

“We are committed to meeting that need in a safe and environmentally responsible way and plan to keep local people abreast of our plans every step of the way.”

But Frack Free Frodsham and Helsby responded:

“Claims that this source of power will provide a bridge until renewable energy sources are provided are without foundation.

“We need to reduce our carbon emissions now to slow the effect of climate change and we need to develop without delay renewable energy sources including wind, solar and tidal. Any investment must be made to achieve this goal.”

It accused IGas of caring only about its investors and said the company’s promises had a “very hollow ring”.

“Their continued attempts to exploit this resource at the detrimental cost to public health and the environment as well as to wild life in the area was expected.

“It will though only serve to make our local campaigners, who are from all walks of life, and who represent the views of the vast majority, more determined to stop it from happening.”

IGas has said it would participate in a community liaison group and take feedback from local residents.

The company has organised a public drop-in exhibition on 18 October 2017 from 3.30pm-7.30pm, at Elton Community Centre,  School Lane, Elton, Chester CH2 4PU.

Public opinion

Surveys of residents in nearby Frodsham and Helsby have recorded a majority against fracking.


In Helsby, 79.7% of people who responded to a survey believed fracking would be a bad thing for the area, compared with 9% who thought it would be a good thing and 11.3% who didn’t know or had no opinion.

In Frodsham, opponents were 77.7%, supporters 9.1% and don’t know were 13.2%. DrillOrDrop report



27 replies »

  1. That’s why Ineos ships are picking up US shale gas to deliver to Grangemouth (whilst it stays open), and elsewhere. And other ships are picking up US shale gas to deliver into the UK grid, John.

    Funny how reality has a habit of rubbishing Giggle. I’ll stick with reality, and the gannets.

  2. Hmmm, interesting to see the link between UKGEOS and Igas

    “UKGEOS will drill 80 observation boreholes of various depths across a 28km2 of the Ince Marshes”

    “The boreholes are designed to enable researchers to study geology in what is described as unprecedented detail, including seismic activity and how fluids and gases flow through rocks.

    The BGS said data collected from the research at UKGEOS would be made available to local communities, as well as academics, government, regulators and industry.

    Community meetings about UKGEOS are planned for Wednesday 11 October at Elton Village Hall (10am-2pm) and Thornton Church Hall (6pm-8pm). Further sessions are planned throughout the autumn for Chester, Dunham, Frodsham, Hapsford, Helsby and Ince.

    the phraseology is also interesting as quoted here:

    Ned Garnett, Associate Director of Research at NERC, described the programme as a “significant investment” said it could link to the £31m investment in the UK Geoenergy Observatory, also known as UKGEOS, part of which will be at Ince Marshes.

    Dr Garnett said UKGEOS gave researchers the opportunity to do what he called “excellent science of societal importance”.

    Asked why NERC hadn’t commissioned earlier studies on fracking, before it got underway, he said:

    “We didn’t have UKGEOS two, three, four, five years ago so that does provide us with an opportunity to make *very deep* observations associated with this.

    “Yes, more research could have been done on this earlier but I think we have the opportunity now to have a really significant advancement in terms of our scientific understanding because we will have the infrastructure to do it.”

    £31 million to spend on investigating an industry which all ready has licences to drill and frack with methods all ready being used in other countries, without apparently any controls whatsoever, and suddenly there is an expensive test drilling program being implemented here?

    Something interesting in the *very deep* geology perhaps?

    • Phil,
      They’re planning on “at least one deep well, >1000m, so they’re certainly not investigating anything suitable for nulear waste storage. As for their £30million funding, this is laughable compared to what they’re proposing to do. I’m concerned about huge cost overruns and just wonder who came up with the scope for this project. A lot of the work they are proposing could be done by requesting data from any of the old offshore fields, and then analysing the data. Typical onshore costs are about £3million for a well and £4m for 100km2 of 3D seismic. It’s crazy that their advisory panel is made up of university professors and one person from the oil industry (Schlumberger).

      [figure corrected at poster’s request]

        • Do the gold standard regulations, such as they are, apply to these “study” wells and tests? Are they in or part of a PEDL?

          If each of the exploratory wells cost upward of £20 million just to get a bit into the ground, why is only £31 million set aside for testing 80 wells? eight times that would be more realistic? What about the costs of policing? Will Igas share the costs, staff and test results? Will the public be allowed to view these tests and the view the results? Where is the public consultation? Local Authority Planning Permission application and approval, or disapproval?

          Is this investigation by the backdoor? Will be see all sites simply declared as testing sites and avoid the inevitable scrutiny?

          The depth and locations would only be applicable or valid in the shale geology surely? So why different depths? It makes no logical sense does it? Unless of course they are interested in some other aspect?

          And yet also Igas intend to operate right next door? Why not use the Igas wells as test wells and save the tax payer £31 million+?

          Looks like smoke and mirrors to me.

          [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  3. This is the first InPower Movement video of a series to investigate the use of smart meters here and everywhere.

    This is NOT the reclaim the power movement i might add, it is primarily about how the energy in whichever form is delivered to you and how the energy companies wish to monitor your every action and your legal rights to stand up for yourselves with the the dangerous microwave devices that are smart meters.

    This is the main web site, you can watch the videos on you tube.

    Time for a little interesting viewing for the weekend perhaps? Another aspect of the power grid i know, but worth watching since it opens up the deeper aspects of the energy exploration, production, distribution and delivery industries.

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