Press Release: Public Meetings on Fracking in Wigan and Leigh

Residents of Wigan and Leigh have organised two public information evenings to spread awareness about how fracking could affect them. The open meetings will be held on Friday 10th June at 7pm, at Standish Community Centre on Moody Street, and on Tuesday 28th June at 7pm, at Leigh Miners Welfare Institute, Kirby Road, Leigh.

Almost the entire Wigan area is now vulnerable to fracking after rights over unconventional oil and gas were handed to operators Hutton and Aurora in December 2015, meaning companies that wish to frack for shale gas can apply for planning permission at any time. North Yorkshire County Council approved the first commercial fracking in the UK on 23 May 2016.

Fracking, or Hydraulic Fracturing, involves the high-pressure blasting of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to shatter the rock and release gases trapped within [1]. Fracking has caused earthquakes and contamination of water, land and air [2] in the USA where many states have now banned the practice.

There are widespread concerns the practice is incompatible with UK geology, and infrastructure with UK roads incompatible with the daily movement of huge 30,000 litre tankers.
Standish resident Helen Dryden said: “The Wigan borough is already mired in traffic chaos. The M6 Orrell Interchange is one of the busiest junctions in the Country [3] and the Standish Junction, 27, is already heavily impacted. The prospect of heavy goods vehicles transporting fracking fluids back and forth over an extended period is extremely concerning.”

In 2015, Parliament’s own Environmental Audit Committee admitted the practice is incompatible with our climate targets and called for a ban on the highly controversial practice [4]

Hindley Green resident, Fiona Smith said, “I believe there is no such thing as safe fracking. I’m worried about it polluting our water, affecting house prices and the ability to obtain home insurance, damaging health, and contaminating land. The experiences of other countries do not reassure me.”

“Any long term jobs created will not be for local communities. Many more jobs could be created if the focus were on cleaner and more sustainable plans for our energy future, such as retrofitting and insulating homes, and developing renewable technologies.”

Helen Dryden, from Standish, said, “We’ve seen in recent weeks in Yorkshire that local councils will not always defend their residents from the risks of fracking. Wigan Council has made no assurances or commitments to avoid fracking in the Borough.  Standish has already felt the impact of local Council planning decisions around housing being overturned by Government officials.  Even when councils do act in line with residents’ wishes, it can be taken out of their hands, as has happened in Lancashire, where democracy is being obliterated by a Government intent on going ‘all out for shale’, regardless of the impact to local communities, the environment and the health and well-being of current and future generations.”

“It’s up to us to be vigilant in Wigan and be prepared to fight any applications for fracking which come our way.  I don’t want to see this area sacrificed for a short-term and dirty form of energy that is a real threat to our health and our future.”
[3] Source: Networks Traffic’, Highways Agency, 11th March 2015

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