Earlier this month, fracking company IGas produced a report confirming that as well as searching for Coal Bed Methane as part of its exploratory drilling programme at Barton Moss last winter it was also testing for shale deposits – and that the results were "encouraging in respect of the shale potential of the area".
The report also confirmed that IGas will "submit applications for multi-well sites for drilling and hydraulic fracturing of gas from shale in 2015", a move slammed by Friends of the Earth...
"These shale gas results will ring alarm bells in the local community who last winter showed huge opposition to IGas drilling at Barton Moss" said the group's Helen Rimmer "Fracking for shale gas is high risk for communities, the environment and the climate and Salford Council must listen to the concerns of residents and reject any application to frack."
She added: "The IGas results from Barton Moss show that all along IGas were testing for shale gas - which requires fracking to extract - despite only having permission for shallower coal bed methane."
During the daily protests last winter, dozens of people opposed to fracking were arrested and charged at the Barton Moss site. While the huge majority of those charges have been thrown out of court, those outstanding have been postponed until the New Year, pending investigations of the IGas site. There is in place a court ban on the media elaborating on this.
Meanwhile, last week Trafford Council, during a debate on a further IGas planning application for Coal Bed Methane exploration at the Davyhulme site (see previous Salford Star article – click here), voted to ban fracking "until such time as it can be proven safe".
Salford Council remains tight lipped on its intentions with regard to an impending fracking application for Barton Moss from IGas in the New Year.
Last week - after Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart had joined with nine other Greater Manchester Council leaders in signing the Greater Manchester Devolution pact with Tory Minister George Osborne - the Chancellor, speaking on Radio 4, linked fracking as helping to deliver a "Northern Powerhouse" - a statement slammed by Friends of the Earth...
"This is yet another desperate attempt by the Chancellor to try and win over communities who are saying no to dirty fracking" explained Helen Rimmer "The economic benefits of shale gas have been vastly over-hyped by the Government and their friends in the fossil fuel industry, and residents opposing fracking in Greater Manchester will not be bought off with cheap bribes.
"A far better solution for the northern economy is to invest in renewables and energy efficiency which could create thousands of new jobs for the region and tackle climate change at the same time" she added.
Indeed, tomorrow night (Tuesday 18th November), the Campaign Against Climate Change has the Manchester launch of its One Million Climate Jobs booklet, which includes the prospect of 4,500 jobs in Salford (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
As the call for renewable energy and jobs grows, together with opposition to fracking, shares in IGas have all but collapsed, from a high of 160 points in January this year to 56 this morning (follow the shares' fortunes - click here).
The latest tanking of the shares appears to be related to some strange share dealing by the IGas Chief Executive Andrew Austin. The company was forced to issue a statement last Friday about its `share movement'... "The Company notes the recent movement in its share price and confirms the detail contained in the statement on 16 January 2014, in respect of Mr Andrew Austin's facility with Energy First Partners LLP, is full and correct disclosure for the purposes of the AIM and Disclosure and Transparency Rules."
Investors in IGas are up in arms about the `facility' on investor forums but the share price has been in free fall since June.
* The tanking of IGas shares is not good news for the Greater Manchester Pension Fund which invests in the company via the Henderson Group. Salford City Council and its employees contribute to the GM Pension Fund - see previous Salford Star article for full details - click here
* The One Million Climate Jobs booklet is being re-launched at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount Street, Manchester M2 5NS on Tuesday 18th November 7:15pm