A STOCKTON Heath councillor who fears fracking could 'turn communities upside down' is calling for a 'balanced' debate on the controversial drilling process.

Labour's borough and parish councillor Laurence Murphy will attend a presentation delivered by INEOS Shale on May 10 at Frodsham Community Centre, along with other representatives from across the region.

The organisation said it will describe the shale gas exploration and production process.

INEOS is 'confident' it has the 'technical capability and expertise' to carry out activities 'responsibly and safely'.

But Cllr Murphy is pressing the firm to present both sides of the argument to all in attendance.

He said: "I note that the presentation will be made by the proponents of fracking.

"I am seeking an assurance that the informed arguments of objectors will be represented to ensure that the presentation is fully balanced.

"Fracking comes with a bad reputation. Cautionary cases coming out of America cause me to fear that this extreme form of extraction may lead to water contamination, air pollution, earthquakes, illness, exacerbate climate change and turn communities upside down."

There is currently 'no fracking' taking place in Warrington but planning permission exists at three locations for 'activities related to the extraction of unconventional gas'.

The Doe Green site in Penketh is 'operational' for the extraction of coal bed methane, while land in Woolston, which is adjacent to the M6 junction 21, was granted planning permission for the 'exploration of boreholes' in 2010 – development commenced early last year.

Land off Waterworks Lane in Winwick has also been earmarked for work but the council confirmed development is yet to commence.

Permission was granted for operations including proposed drilling for the exploration of boreholes, erection of containerised units and associated plant and equipment and extraction of 'mine gas' to generate electricity.

A council spokesman added: "None of the sites could convert their activities to fracking for shale gas deposits without first obtaining additional planning permission."