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. Of all the ballot papers issued in the survey, shown in the pie chart, in reality less than half were returned with a vote against fracking. However those not responding to the survey organised by an anti-fracking campaign, were disregarded.

    • The surveys simply measure the effectiveness of an anti-fracking campaign that plays to the basest of human emotions – fear. [Edited by moderator] There is always an element of society that is unwilling to listen to science and properly conducted independent research, and who has difficulty trusting government and regulatory bodies. This won’t change.

  2. What were the questions?
    1. Do you want to have your water contaminated by fracking (even tho there is no evidence for that)
    2. Do you want your children to die and farming land to produce no crops?

    Lets face it, thats the type of drivel that the antis come out with in spite of there being no evidence. Thats why you have to be very suspicious of these ‘surveys’. The tracker surveys consistently show a that 50% have no opinion. About 30% are against (based in nonsense concerns) and a bit less than 20% are for it. This is an oil refinery! Not some idyllic unspoilt dream beauty spot. The gas would be used anyway. The only question is should it be imported, or taken from under our feet. Economically its a no brainer.

    • So Ken; it appears the question demonstrated by the results is:
      What is your opinion on fracking in Frodsham/Helsby?
      A good thing
      A bad thing
      Don’t know or don’t have an opinion

      A perfectly simple opinion poll. Not sure where you got your false questions from? It appears the only drivel has come from your keyboard…..By the way, your made up question number one is a leading question and would not be suitable for a survey/questionnaire. Number two is actually two questions and would yield a distorted result on not enable the respondent to answer at all.

      You could, of course spend some time getting together with your supporters and do your own survey of the area? I’m sure the results would be interesting?

  3. If people do not bother to respond to a survey/cast a vote then how can their views be anything but disregarded?!

    The survey was conducted according to the guidelines in the ‘Best practice guide for using statistics in communications’ published jointly by the Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR), Market Research Society (MRS) and Royal Statistical Society (RSS).
    In addition, the following additional guidelines were agreed:
    – No canvasing or expression of opinion would take place at the time of distribution or collection of the complete questionnaires.
    – Completed questionnaires would be sealed in envelopes and bundled by areas collected.

    All questionnaires remained sealed in envelopes until the count was conducted by local residents at the offices of Frodsham Town Council in Castle Park House on the morning of Saturday 22nd October 2016. The count was supervised by the statistician who advised us on how to conduct the survey and Councillor Andrew Dawson, Councillor Lynn Riley and local residents observing.

    [Edited by moderator]

    • Adrienne

      Disregarding those who do not respond to a survey, or vote is an interesting issue.

      In terms of a democratic vote, if people do not vote, then their views may well be disregarded, depending on who wins. Plus, one knows how many can vote, and hence the turnout.

      For a survey, one could disregard those who do not take part, but it is always interesting to know how many people were asked. Non returns should be included ( or reported on DOD ) as an output of the survey.

      So for Frodaham, for example, how many people were asked, and how many replied. A low reply rate might mean few were interested in the issue, and vice versa no doubt.

      Example ….

      Of 4000 people asked, 160 were against fracking, 20 were for it and 20 had no opinion. 3800 did not reply.

      Or of 4000 people asked 2400 were against it, 300 were for it and 300 had no opinion. 1000 did not reply.

      I do believe that local and general elections are still the best way of gauging public opinion amongst those who can vote. Voting for a party is not binary ( well not for me ), so anti frackers may vote conservative, and pro frackers labour, green etc as that party ticks most boxes for them.

  4. Hi Sherwulfe, still burning wood off grid? – one of the most polluting fuels available, and, unless you’re planting new trees, environmentally damaging.

    • err, I think you will find the wood burner was Paul Tresco…and yes I plant new trees every year thanks; do you?

      • Garden not really big enough for any more trees but I think about not reducing green growth area, not really a hardship as I like the garden anyway. I guess Greenpeace etc do encourage the development of carbon dioxide sinks but maybe it would be nice to see them giving it higher emphasis. Wonder what effect it would have if all gardens increased their leaf area by say 5%?

  5. These survey results remind me a bit of what some Brexiteers are saying now, “if only I knew I would have voted Remain”. When we find ourselves increasingly reliant on imported LNG amongst higher prices as the whole world is competing for supply and replacing coal with gas (especially China where there is a strong pollution based political imperative) then people will be asking, Why didn’t we produce our own gas?

    By the way for history buffs, during the 2nd World War the Uk managed to drill over 200 oil wells very quickly in the Sherwood Forest area with American help to reduce the need for imports.

    • These survey results are clear to me that those asked the question don’t want fracking; don’t need to make up an alternative universe version.

      By the way for history buffs, we used to get along nicely without gas; unfortunately in WW2 there was a slight problem regarding imports, something to do with some country blowing up our boats? Clearly not a need to reduce imports then…..

      I think you will find we will become increasingly reliant on clean energy. p.s we do produce our own gas 🙂

  6. I see Scotland has banned fracking. I also read that the ban has ended most of the geothermal planned for Scotland, the hot stuff needs fracking apparently…

    I wonder how many knew that before the vote?

  7. I think you’ll find that that we only “got along nicely without gas” in the industrial era when we mined and burnt vast amounts of coal, and before that cut wood. I’m old enough to remember the smogs and it was the health emergency that smogs produced that started the “dash for gas” and later the North Sea revolution which brought about the conversion of every home to accept natural gas. That whole process by the way is being repeated in urban China right now which is why they will vastly increase the worldwide demand for gas.

    What do you mean by clean energy,? are you including Nuclear and imported wood chips, if not then I come back to my question about nights when the wind doesn’t blow., you’ll potentially be reliant on very little for at least the next couple of decades until and if renewable technologies catch up.

    • So, Shalewatcher; there was a life before the ‘industrial’ revolution. I think you will find China taking an alternative route.
      As you so rightly stated in your first offering, I am off-grid and have first hand experience of generating my energy needs from wind and solar. In many ways my transition to clean energy mimics the big picture facing the UK right now. Making the change is like becoming self -employed after working for someone, it is empowering (‘scuse the pun). There are pros and cons with both systems, it’s the nature of life.

      By clean energy I do not include nuclear, that also has had its day. The waste generated is too difficult to manage and takes too long to make safe. Neither is shale gas a ‘clean or green’ energy as often portrayed by the marketeers. Developing a shale gas industry is like climbing Everest in your pyjamas.

      We have enough gas to use as a so called ‘transition’ fuel currently sourced from the North Sea. Clean energy generation technology is moving faster than ever; the technology is here and is showing us, even now, how it can replace fossil fuel generation if the political will was in place. I expect that ‘will’ to change very soon 🙂

  8. Wood burning to be banned in London?? Where next??

    These surveys are a waste of time without first establishing whether those responding have any real level of knowledge concerning the subject, for and against. Without that it is a knee jerk reaction, the same as it would be against most “development”. Most against, will be against the “idea” of it, and this would change immediately and significantly if a supplementary question was asked after any supplementary benefit data was supplied. Try it amongst an audience who has not already been “got at”.
    I can understand this being useful to any antis who want a comfort blanket, but to imply it means anything else will not wash because market research is a pretty well established “science” and such implications will just be seen as more attempts into poor science. Such “surveys” are often completely de-bunked when a development goes ahead and the population are then asked afterwards eg. Newbury Bypass-“it was the idea we were against but the reality now is great.”

  9. Interesting comments by Jim Sillars calling the indefinite fracking ‘delay’ announced by the SNP as “cowardly”.
    He is completely correct, the SNP have no economic plan and are giving into the greens even although they are a mere hindrance on the political landscape.
    As for the vow to fight on by the antis, keep fighting and we will keep winning.

  10. “The shale gas company IGAS”.

    As with “surveys”, a phrase, or lack of, will make a great difference! For a “Shale gas company”, the financial report detailed on DOD only a few weeks ago, that this is NOT a shale gas company and the current operations of this company are NOT shale gas. IGAS are seeking to ADD shale gas to their existing business. Similarly, Ineos are NOT a motor manufacturer. Just semantics? No. It means in the case of IGAS they already have experience of process for extraction of fossil fuel in the UK-we wouldn’t want the public to be unaware of that, who might be aware there are currently no shale gas companies in UK.

    GBK-yes, more semantics from SNP. It isn’t an indefinite ban in Scotland. It will, at the most, last as long as the SNP can muster a majority. It may be a short delay.

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