LAST Wednesday the Government announced that applications for oil and gas exploration licences (PEDL licences) have been made for an area in West Wiltshire that encompasses Trowbridge, Westbury and Warminster as well as Bradford on Avon.

Award of these licences is the first step towards the controversial ‘fracking’ process to exploit shale gas reserves. Members of the campaign group Keep Wiltshire Frack Free are ready to oppose any fracking plans.

David Cameron has said that the government is going ‘all out for shale’ and is determined to roll out fracking across the country, despite strong opposition from local residents and campaigners.

Councillors reacted angrily last week when the government unveiled plans to remove the decision on fracking applications from local authorities if they were not completed within 16 weeks. One Lancashire councillor described it as ‘bullying tactics’.

Dr Becky Martin from Keep Wiltshire Frack Free said: "Where fracking has happened in the USA it has caused great damage to the countryside and people’s health.

"Google ‘the list of the harmed’ and you can see the devastating effects of the air and water contamination this industry causes.

"A quick look on Google Earth at Dimmock, Pennsylvania will show you the scars it leaves on the landscape. It’s not just one or two wells, this industry requires hundreds and thousands of wells to make a profit, all requiring hundreds of lorries each carrying chemicals and ridiculous amounts of waste water contaminated with carcinogens and radioactive substances."

Other research has seen that the waste products of hydraulic fracking chemicals contain more than 100 known and suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals many of them acting as reproductive hormone mimics and inhibitors.

Tests have found elevated levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals activity in surface and ground water surrounding natural gas drilling operations.

What can these chemicals do? Insidiously, they can disrupt the development of the reproductive system and the normal reproductive progression associated with puberty.

Furthermore, they can lead to reduced fertility and to an increase in the rate of cryptorchidism (non-descended testes), hypospadias (abnormal position of the external urethral meatus), testicular and ovarian tumours and cancer of the prostate, uterus and breast.

Michelle Donelan (incumbent Tory MP for Chippenham) said in a pre-election hustings to a packed house in Melksham Town Hall: “There are no plans to frack in Wiltshire”, while others say they have it in writing from James Grey that “there will be no fracking in Wiltshire”.

I await to hear a quote from Andrew Murrison, whose constituency is mostly in the proposed area.

Anyone who understands fracking is opposed to it. If they understand it but they still support it, they must be gaining profit from it.

There are NO “grey areas” with fracking. There is nothing good about it. There is no such thing as safe fracking.

I urge people to do their own research. The website is a good place to start. Please join our facebook group Keep Wiltshire Frack Free if you wish to act to stop this.

Award of licence is subject to confirmation of certain details regarding sensitive areas that could affect wildlife. A consultation runs until September 25. Fracking licence applications have also been confirmed around Hinkley nuclear power station.

Tina Johnston (Chippenham Green Party), 07754 429229.

Phil Chamberlin (North Wilts Green Party), 07793 018283.

Philip Randle (South West Wiltshire Green Party), 07595 996464.

Emma Dawney (Devizes Green Party) , 07958 458386.