Not surprisingly local councillors are picking up concerns from residents of the wards they represent regarding concerns about the potential of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas locally.

I am obviously aware that there has been some exploratory drilling near Banks (in West Lancashire to the north of Southport) by Cuadrilla last year following the previous Government allocating licenses for such activity.

I don’t think that to date there have been any applications to commercially-exploit the shale gas locally. If there is such an attempt, I am sure that it will be well-advertised and there will have to be major planning permission applications. At that point, the various parties will be required to put their arguments in a manner which will be open to examination by councillors and local residents.

The onus is very much on the industry and government to demonstrate that the environmental impact can be mitigated and to convince the country that there are net benefits in controlled use of this technology. I am also concerned that there are those who see this as a ‘quick fix’ easy-answer alternative to developing more renewable sources of energy and investing in much-needed energy conservation.