Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins has given ‘cautious support’ to controversial proposals for fracking exploration to be carried out at several sites in the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The Government had granted nine licences for exploration at locations throughout the east of the county.
The sites - around 10kms square - include stretches of land near to Wragby and Bardney, a site near Spilsby and also on the coast running north from Skegness.
Campaigners have attacked the decision and warned protected countryside, woodland and rural communities could be under threat - if any fracking operations do go ahead.
However, Ms Atkins says it is important to consider ‘every alternative’ to produce fuel for future generations with many traditional reserves of gas in danger of running out.
She also stressed any permission for fracking should be controlled by strict planning guidelines and that any communities affected should receive subsidised fuel.
Ms Atkins explained: “There is a lot of controversy surrounding fracking.
“However, we need to have an open mind - until we know more about a specific proposal.
“These licences are only for exploration and it’s by no means certain that any shale gas will be found. When it comes to our future energy supplies, it is important we consider every alternative.
“There are also things like new jobs to take into consideration. Of course, people are concerned but there is a very robust planning system in place which will offer protection.”
Campaigners claim even the exploratory licences could lead to major drilling operations - including in protected countryside.
One protest group has been set up in Kirton Lindsey and is planning to join forces with similar organisations across the Midlands to halt fracking.
They claim fracking has arrived via ‘the back door’ at a time when many people are more concerned about the equally controversial option of wind farms.
In a statement, the protest group said: “As public awareness and opposition to fracking has grown, the government has changed planning policy to speed up consent for shale gas exploration.
“In 2015, Lancashire County Council refused Cuadrilla’s application for shale gas exploration.
“The company appealed.
“Planning appeals are normally heard by a planning inspector but the government announced that fracking appeals would be decided by the Secretary of State, thus denying the public its democratic right to influence decisions.
“Shale gas fracking is very different from the single nodding donkey oil wells scattered around the county.
“It operates on an industrial scale and is classed as a ‘hazardous industry’.
“Each ‘frac’ well will extract a small amount of gas so multiple wells must be fracked at each site.
“As each shale pocket is exhausted the operation must move to another site for multiple wells to be drilled.
“If sanctioned, we would see widescale industrialisation of Lincolnshire.”
The group also claims that licences for exploration are being given before the Government and planning authorities are aware of the potential risks involved.
The statement added: “To a great extent, the industry is self-regulating.
“Recent flooding has shown that regulatory agencies are under pressure and at times unable to keep people safe.
“The government and the extreme energy extraction industry perpetuate many myths to justify the need to frack under our countryside.”
The group disputed whether fracking would lead to new jobs and said evidence from other countries suggested otherwise.
The statement concluded: “Fracked gas is not a bridge to a greener future.
“The Government’s own energy committee states yield is too uncertain to be relied on and development would take 10-15 years.
“Renewable energy sources are available now, prices have fallen dramatically, and many communities have started their own clean energy projects.
“The huge sums of tax payers money supporting the fracking industry by subsidy and tax breaks would be better invested in renewables which would create thousands of jobs.”
For more information youcan contact the group on Facebook and email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01673 818272.