Anti-fracking campaigners call public meeting in Melton

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A public meeting to discuss the prospect of fracking in Melton and the Vale of Belvoir is being held in the town next Saturday (October 17).

The meeting, called by the Rutland and Melton Green Party, will be held at the Samworth Centre (room two) on Burton Street from 11am.

As reported in the Melton Times in August the prospect of fracking locally moved another step closer after a licence was offered to London-based company Hutton Energy to carry out the practice within an area to the north of Melton, taking in the villages of Thorpe Arnold, Welby, Saxelbye, Wartnaby, Holwell, Scalford, Goadby Marwood, Long Clawson, Hose, Eastwell, Eaton and Waltham.

The Melton permit, covering an area of around 100 square kilometres, was one of 27 in the UK where licences were offered to private companies by the Government’s Oil and Gas Authority.

It’s anticipated Hutton Energy will be formally granted the licence later this year.

The firm must gain approval from national bodies, including the Environment Agency and minerals planning authority, and would still need to apply for and gain planning permission from the local authority before starting to frack – a controversial technique which involves drilling deep into the ground and blasting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into shale rocks to release gas trapped inside.

Fracking is seen as a way of helping secure the nation’s future energy requirements but critics warn it could damage the environment.

Speaking previously to the Melton Times on the issue, Alastair McQuillan, from the Rutland and Melton Green Party, said: “We’re totally opposed to this. We believe it damages the environment and puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If there’s a leak in the well it could pollute watercourses. There’s also evidence that it causes earthquakes.”

Hutton Energy has already been granted licences for fracking within other blocks of land covering more villages in the Vale, including Harby, Stathern, Colston Bassett, Plungar, Barkestone, Redmile, Langar, Barnstone, Granby, Knipton, Belvoir, Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir, Muston, Bottesford, Cropwell Bishop and Cropwell Butler.

Another company, Egdon Resources, has a licence for fracking within a block of land to the north west of Melton, comprising villages including Old Dalby, Upper Broughton, Hickling, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds and Wymeswold.

Hutton Energy’s communications manager Anna McMaster previously told the Melton Times: “Once we decide an area we’ll be working on we set up a community advisory board and consult with them and the community.

“We’re experienced in this work and we believe the UK has regulations to make sure any fracking operations are done in the safest way possible. We also have to adhere to a number of authorities and we work with them to make sure we’re in line with them.”

At the time of going to press Leicestershire County Council, the minerals planning authority and the Environment Agency said they weren’t aware of any further developments.