Shale gas firm approval for groundwater monitoring drilling

An example of a test site for fracking Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The public consultation for IGas to explore shale gas on land off Springs Road, in Misson, Nottinghamshire, ended on 9 December

A gas firm looking for potential fracking locations has been given permission to drill exploratory groundwater monitoring boreholes in Nottinghamshire.

Planning permission was granted to Island Gas Limited (iGas) to drill four boreholes near Misson.

An iGas spokesman said data from the drilling "might be used to support a future fracking application".

Anti-fracking protestors said they had "lost a battle but not the war".

The protestors, including Misson parish councillor Jayne Watson, raised concerns about noise, potential impact on wildlife and whether or not there would be sufficient monitoring of iGas' activities.

The company insisted it would consult regularly with the Environment Agency over its plans.

Mrs Watson said the drilling, which was approved by Nottinghamshire County Council's planning committee, was intrinsically linked to a future application for exploratory shale gas drilling.

BBC political correspondent Peter Saull

The licences granted by the government mean there are potentially hundreds of communities in Nottinghamshire who could see fracking on their doorstep.

In reality, though, it's a long way off - and companies such as iGas will have to clear several hurdles along the way.

Today's decision to grant permission for monitoring boreholes was a relative formality, but a busy public gallery underlined the growing determination among campaigners to stop fracking in its tracks.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

The firm said in a statement: "Establishing baseline monitoring is key to ensuring that our operations are carried out safely and environmentally responsibly."

Image caption Fracking is a technique in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas

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