CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up calls for a ban on shale gas drilling on the Fylde coast until potential environmental and health risks have been properly assessed.
Gas giant Cuadrilla Resources has already begun drilling, using a controversial process known as fracking, in Preese Hall, near Weeton.
It is also carrying out tests in Singleton and now has permission to expand its operation on Anna’s Road, Westby.
But the Co-operative, which campaigns against climate change and was named one of Sunday Times Best Green Companies last year, has funded research at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change in a bid to ban the process until more is known.
Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the centre, said: “If we’re serious about avoiding dangerous climate change, the only safe place for shale gas remains in the ground.”
Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party, has sent a letter to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DEC), and the Parliamentary select committee which will decide whether the drilling gets the go-ahead.
The Greens have also compiled a petition to back their claim Cuadrilla should not be granted a licence to drill.
Mr Mitchell said: “The evidence suggests there is a wide range of risks to onshore shale gas production, including explosions and water pollution.
“We’ve requested a ban and welcome the Co-op’s support as there is an unacceptable degree of uncertainty and the full impact on public health and safety are not fully understood.”
Singleton councillor Maxine Chew said: “Industrial work should never pollute our water supply.
“The process uses an awful lot of water, and everything I have read about the process of fracking mentions the huge amount of chemicals which are used.
“I’m extremely concerned about the environmental impact – certainly on our water table – and I have seen the pictures from America which shows flames coming from taps.”
An American documentary Gasland shows taps producing flames rather than water, and tells how animals have died because of contaminated water due to drilling.
A spokesman for the DEC said: “We support endeavours in pursuing energy sources, provided tapping of such resources proves to be economically, commercially and environmentally viable.
“All onshore oil and gas projects, including shale gas exploration and development, are subject to a series of checks, including local planning permission before they are able to move ahead with drilling activities.”
Tim Yeo, chairman of the parliamentary committee, said: “Shale gas is a very interesting new area, and could potentially make a significant contribution to available reserves in North America and even in the UK. But it does raise some new environmental and related questions.”
Blackpool Airport has submitted a complaint to Lancashire County Council to object to the process