Former Green Party leader Natalie Bennet backs anti-fracking campaigners at Blyth drilling site

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Former leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennet joined angry campaigners at an exploratory shale gas drilling site in Blyth to protest against the “aggressive threat” of fracking in the district.

Activist groups gathered at the site, off Tinker Lane in Misson, near Blyth, on Friday included Bassetlaw Against Fracking, Frack Free Misson and Woodsetts Against Fracking.

Energy firm IGas are currently stationed at Tinker Lane, trying to determine if there is enough shale gas under the site to warrant fracking.

The controversial technique involves drilling into the earth and directed high-pressure water, sand and chemicals at rock to release gas.

Speaking at the rally, Natalie said: “People are gathering together all over England at the moment to defend their local communities from the aggressive threat of fracking.

“I am hugely cheered by the amount of cars passing the gates and honking support for you all.

“I believe 2018 is the year we can win and stop fracking in England.”

Matthew, a Blyth resident, said he was worried about health implications fracking could have on the area.

He added: “I cannot stand by and watch this disaster unfold knowing what I know, even the government acknowledge the risks.

“I appreciate that this is an exploratory well but let’s not kid ourselves- they want to frack.”

A spokesman for IGas said the firm have been operating assets in the wider East Midlands area “for over 30 years”, with and roughly 50 per cent of the company’s total oil production coming from the region.

They added: “During all of that time we have co-existed quietly, safely and sensitively in local communities.

“We understand that people have concerns over the processes of gas extraction and we are always ready to listen and to answer questions that they have and will continue to do so. We take our environmental and community responsibilities very seriously.

“A significant number of experts, including public health bodies in the UK, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management and the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering have all concluded that any health and environmental risks can be managed in a well-regulated industry.”