Protest over any potential fracking in Doncaster

A shale gas test site.
A shale gas test site.

Environmentalists have vowed to fight any plans for fracking in Doncaster after a survey revealed large parts of the town are sitting on rocks that could produce shale gas.

Campaigners are calling for any potential plans to extract the fossil fuel to be ditched because of the impact on the environment.

A survey by the British Geological Survey claimed to have established the potential presence of shale gas underneath vast areas of Doncaster, including the town centre and stretching from Bawtry to Bentley.

The head of a shale gas exploration company has also reportedly called for former mining towns to be fracked - a process where rock is fractured with high-pressure liquid to release gas.

But town environmentalists have vowed to fight any fracking plans, while mayor Ros Jones and Labour leader Ed Miliband also say green issues must be considered carefully as part of any future proposals.

Former parliamentary candidate Steve Platt, Doncaster’s Green Party spokesman, said: “We are against fracking and I would not like to see it come to Doncaster. I would object to any such plans.

“Fossil fuels should be left in the ground. If we start digging this up that will release excess carbon emissions which will contribute to global warming.”

Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth, added: “We need a 21st century energy revolution based on efficiency and renewables, not more fossil fuels that will add to climate change.”

Despite the concern Neil O’Brien, chief executive of Nottinghamshire-based Alkane Energy, told a national newspaper on Saturday there would be less opposition to fracking in areas like South Yorkshire, because they have been home to the coal mining industry for decades.

He said: “I think there is a lot to go at in the more traditional heartlands. These areas have much more of a heritage of energy.”

Mayor Ros Jones said the council has yet to be contacted by any companies wanting to undertake fracking in the area.

She added: “With our partners across South Yorkshire we are looking at the issue and how to handle such enquiries should they come.

“As a borough we would need to ensure all risks and concerns in respect of environmental issues are adequately resolved to safeguard our residents.”

A spokesman for Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said there must be a ‘cautious and proportionate approach to fracking’.

He added: “It’s important that legitimate environmental and safety concerns are addressed. There also needs to be a strong and robust regulatory regime and comprehensive monitoring in place so there is confidence the extraction of shale gas is safe, and ultimately that it can provide a reliable and useful source of energy.”

Ministers have announced payments for residents who host fracking wells. Communities could receive at least £100,000 for each well, and one per cent of revenues if the drilling proves to be commercially viable.

Energy minister Michael Fallon said: “Given the scale of the potential, it would be irresponsible of us not to encourage its exploration.”

A British Geological Survey spokesman said: “Shale gas clearly has potential but it will require geological and engineering expertise, investment, and protection of the environment.”