A new campaign group is to be launched to fight controversial plans to drill for gas in the Shropshire countryside, it has been revealed.
About 10 residents in Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere, have expressed an interest in setting up a group to fight plans for exploratory drilling for coal-bed methane gas in the area. The move follows a meeting in the village on Tuesday where more than 100 people vented their anger at the proposal.
It comes as a report today claimed developing shale gas in the UK could draw in £33 billion of investment and create tens of thousands of jobs. The study for the UK Onshore Operators Group estimates that drilling up to 4,000 wells for shale gas, which is exploited by controversial fracking, over 18 years would create 64,000 jobs directly linked to exploration sites, in the supply chain or in supporting services.
Residents in Dudleston Heath are concerned about the impacts it would have on the environment and their homes.
The scheme has been put forward by Dart Energy, which says a planning application could be submitted in about a month if Shropshire Council waives the need for an environmental impact assessment.
The meeting on Tuesday was organised by Frack Free North Shropshire and another public meeting to discuss the drilling proposal will be held at the Hermon Chapel in Oswestry tonight at 7.30pm.
Duncan Kerr of Frack Free North Shropshire said it was important that the village had its own campaign group to oppose the plans.
He said: “We were delighted with the turnout. It shows the feeling in the area. We have had a number of people come forward who are willing to coordinate a group.”
The proposals have outraged campaigners who say exploratory drilling for coal-bed methane gas could open the door for controversial fracking for shale gas in future years.
But the firm denies it has any plans to use fracking for shale gas in the county even though north Shropshire sits on both coal and shale, saying it is interested in coal-bed methane only.
Peter Reilly, consultant for Dart Energy, said: “This is for a single vertical exploration and there will be one well. We will take samples, cap it off and send the samples away.
“The country still needs gas. We are better off getting it from under our feet rather than from other countries.”
As a result of this public meeting Frack Free Dudleston has formed to help resist the plans for exploratory drilling for coal-bed methane gas in the area.