FRACKING will not take place in Cheshire East, despite financial incentives from the government.
Government proposals to develop the shale gas industry include allowing councils to keep 100 per cent of the business rates for shale gas projects, rather than the usual 50 per cent.
However, Cheshire East Council leader Michael Jones last night said the proposals are ‘not right’ for the borough.
“Fracking may well be a useful technology for other areas and good luck to them if it is,” he said.
“However, the people of Cheshire East have our assurance that there won’t be any in our borough.”
The shale gas industry has promised communities £100,000 for test drilling at potential sites and a further 1 per cent of the revenues if deposits are discovered.
The controversial fracking technique involves deep-drilling with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals in order to extract hard-to-reach deposits of shale gas.
The British Geological Survey estimates there may be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the north of England, but Cheshire East is instead investigating other renewable technologies such as advanced thermal treatments.
This technique involves processing solid waste to reduce carbon emissions and introduce a step change in local energy production.
Clr Jones added: “Let me be clear, there are parts of the country where local councils will welcome ministers’ offer to benefit from shale gas extraction, however our main focus as a council is on the exciting potential for geothermal technology in Crewe.
“We believe this is a ‘game-changer’ for the borough, providing renewable heat and energy on a significant scale and we are in talks with the government to help us develop the site.”
Friends of the Earth campaigners backed Cheshire East’s decision but labelled it ‘hugely embarrassing’ for the government, with the borough including large parts of Chancellor George Osborne’s constituency.
North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: "This is hugely embarrassing for the Government. On the day the Prime Minister announces that fracking is the future, the Conservative leader of a council covering his Chancellor's constituency says it won't happen there.
"The dash for shale gas is already faltering. Ministers should help councils to develop safe, clean renewable power, not dirty fossil fuels that threaten people's quality of life and keep the nation hooked on fossil fuels."