FRACKING could be on the way to Derbyshire after an energy giant announced its intention to drill for shale gas in the East Midlands.
French company Total it is to plough £30 million into shale gas exploration in the region.
It is the latest indication the controversial policy could be heading for the county after a Government report released last month named both Staffordshire and Derbyshire as areas ‘under consideration’ for fracking.
Neither county currently has any fracking sites and council bosses have been eager to downplay the possibility it could soon be the case.
Derbyshire County Council said it would form its response if and when any applications were submitted.
It said that although areas in the north of the county had already been identified as possible drilling sites, it was ‘much too early’ to say if the county would be affected.
Fracking has proved a hugely controversial issue across the country, with many residents in affected areas launching protests.
The process involves pumping liquid deep underground in order to access natural gas.
Campaigners believe the process is potentially damaging to the environment and could impact the water supply - fears have even been raised fracking could lead to earthquakes.
But the Government insists the measure is vital for creating jobs and keeping energy prices down and has reaffirmed its commitment to the process.
The process could become lucrative for local councils after the Government announced authorities would be able to keep all business rates paid by shales gas operators under new plans.
West Midlands Friends of the Earth said the measure was the latest example of the ‘desperate’ lengths ministers were prepared to go to in order to be given the green light to carry out fracking.
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “We have no formal policy on fracking as there are currently no proposals. We have received no applications and if we did we would judge each on its own merits.”