Anger over fracking as meeting descends into chaos

Residents came out in force to attend the meeting.
Residents came out in force to attend the meeting.

A parish council meeting descended into chaos tonight as councillors faced tough questioning about fracking in a village in north east Derbyshire.

Dozens of residents attended an Eckington Parish Council meeting to voice their anger at the possibility of fracking taking place in Marsh Lane.

Marsh Lane councillor, Andy Dye, speaking at the meeting.

Marsh Lane councillor, Andy Dye, speaking at the meeting.

At one point, it looked like the meeting would have to be abruptly ended as residents demanded answers from the parish council, and a representative from the firm behind the application, INEOS, was heckled.

The industry giant has identified a potential new drilling site at privately-owned land off Bramleymoor Lane, close to the village of Marsh Lane and near Apperknowle.

The firm has submitted a request to Derbyshire County Council and says a formal planning application will follow.

During public questions, resident Lisa Shires, of Ridge Road, said: “If this application goes ahead Marsh Lane will never be the same again.

INEOS representative, Gordon Grant (left), at the meeting.

INEOS representative, Gordon Grant (left), at the meeting.

“The potential impact is frightening.

“I have lived on Ridge Road for 17 years and this site is 300 metres from my house and I am scared.

“Who is going to be responsible if something goes wrong? Probably the same taxpayers here now who are saying no.”

The parish council were also asked if they had been made aware of the possibility of fracking taking place in Marsh Lane back in 2015, if the council had discussed the topic with other local authorities and if they had sought legal advice.

Chairman of Eckington Parish Council, Councillor Brian Ridgway, responded: “The parish council were not informed of this application of fracking in Eckington or Marsh Lane in 2015.

“The parish council has not discussed the issue of fracking with other authorities simply because the parish council has simply not yet taken a view.”

He added: “We have not sought legal advice because we have had nothing in front of us to consider. You are the first people to come to us and say ‘we would like you to make a decision on fracking’.”

Following the public questions, Gordon Grant, of INEOS, was booed and heckled as he attempted to speak.

He said: “I just wanted to come along and introduce myself.

“We have heard a number of valid concerns today.

“I am here to address those concerns.

“We are at an early part of this application.

“Before the application goes in we want to have a public meeting so we can answer all your questions.

“We are more than happy to have a public debate on this subject.”

There was some confusion before councillors voted on whether to hold an extraordinary meeting about fracking as Marsh Lane councillor, Andy Dye, told residents that he was against fracking - a comment he should not have apparently made public at this stage - according to Coun Ridgway - who said his vote would not be able to count at the next meeting.

Councillor Dye said: “I will continue to campaign for this community no matter what.

“And yes, I am against fracking and that’s where I stand.”

Councillors then voted in favour of holding an extraordinary meeting about fracking in the next two weeks. The details will be published on the parish council website.

People can also attend an INEOS exhibition at Green Lawns Community Centre in Marsh Lane on Tuesday, January 31, between 2pm and 8pm.

READ MORE: Firm inquires about fracking in Derbyshire village