Protesters have called for a halt to be put on plans to drill for gas under the Lancashire countryside.
Around 60 campaigners opposed to the controversial hydraulic fracturing took part in a rally in Preston on Sunday to call for a wide-ranging review into the environmental impact into the practice.
Reports on Sunday have also flamed the Government could be set to back-track on plans to allow the extraction.
It has been suggested industry experts have told officials, including Prime Minister David Cameron, ‘fracking’ may not have a major impact on the UK energy market.
Helen Rimmer, who was among 40 cyclists from Southport who joined the protest, said too little was known about the impact of the process, which sees water and chemicals blasted into shale rock to unlock natural gas reserves.
She said: “There are still so many unknowns. There has been no independent research done into the risks of water contamination from pumping these chemicals into the ground.
“The only report we have had shows the exploration work being carried out in Lancashire caused earthquakes, but no-one had looked seriously about water contamination or the risk of releasing natural gas into our environment.
“We are calling for the Government to put a halt on any plans to give the go-ahead for fracking to start commercially in the UK until we know what the real risks are.”
The protesters cycled from across Lancashire, including a group of 25 who cycled from Blackpool to Preston, and staged a rally on the city’s Flag Market before cycling on to Lancashire County Council’s headquarters at County Hall in the city.
The demonstration, organised by campaign groups Friends of the Earth, Residents Against Fylde Fracking (RAFF) and Ribble Estuary Against Fracking (REAF), coincided with a one-week deadline for people to comment on the findings of a Government report into the tremors which rocked part of the Fylde two years ago.
It showed that ‘fracking’ had caused the tremors and called for a tightening up of practices undertaken by Cuadrilla Resources, the firm which is exploring the potential of gas under parts of Lancashire.
Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Fylde Green Party, said reports the Government was planning a u-turn on giving ‘fracking’ the green light were “a sign of hope.”
He said: “This is a sign of hope both for the Fylde and for much of Britain which potentially lies above this crazy source of fuel.”
Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron told the Evening Post he would not allow ‘fracking’ to go ahead in Lancashire until it was proven to be safe.
He said: “Safety has to be of paramount importance.”
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Weather for Preston
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: West