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Campaigners up for the fight ahead of crucial fracking public inquiry

Chairman of Eckington Against Fracking, David Kesteven.
Chairman of Eckington Against Fracking, David Kesteven.

Campaigners have welcomed an announcement that a fracking public inquiry will be held in Chesterfield.

Oil and chemical firm Ineos wants to explore for shale gas reserves on land off Bramley Moor Lane, Marsh Lane, near Eckington.

There had been some concerns the inquiry may take place outside the county – but it will be held in the Assembly Rooms in Chesterfield starting on June 19 and lasting eight days.

Chairman of the Eckington Against Fracking group, David Kesteven, said: “All we ever wanted was a level playing field and that’s what we’ve got.

“We want as many people to come along as possible – having a room full of people in Matlock really did help to hold them to account.”

In February, Derbyshire County Council’s planning committee voted by a majority of nine to one to oppose the proposal at the inquiry.

Campaigners packed out County Hall in Matlock and won the support of the planning committee with a number of passionate speeches.

Now their attention turns to the inquiry in which the campaigners and Ineos will present their arguments. Mr Kesteven, who will be giving an opening speech at the inquiry, said: “I cannot wait for it to be over. If we prepare and we do well we will win. It is almost like preparing for a sporting event. We have to train for it and we have to be the best on the day.

“We have been working for 15 months. It has dominated not just my life but other people on the committee – but the end is in sight. Let’s examine democracy and get the facts out there.”

He added: “The plans for Marsh Lane are wrong, it is the wrong place. Fracking itself is not a solution and only a problem.”

Ineos wants to erect a drilling rig up to 60 metres tall and drill around 2,400 metres below the ground to investigate the suitability of the rock for fracking – the process of injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into rocks deep underground to create tiny cracks so shale gas can flow up a well to the surface and be collected.

The public inquiry will decide whether Ineos should be granted planning permission for the development – with the final decision being taken by a planning inspector on behalf of the Government.

The county council has said anyone wishing to appear at the inquiry should be present at the start on the first day to make this known.