‘Keep your hands off our countryside!’ That is the defiant message from people who are worried about the impact of fracking on some of the area’s best-loved scenery.
The Government has granted licences which effectively give the go-ahead to explore for possible fracking operations at sites across Lincolnshire.
Nine of the licences include areas of the Lincolnshire Wolds – and also along the coast.
The licences apply to blocks of land which are roughly 10km square.
The sites include land stretching from Wickenby to Wragby and Bucknall – and another near East Kirkby and Spilsby.
Also included are areas of the Lincolnshire coast north of Skegness and running west towards the Wolds.
There is speculation other sites – closer to Market Rasen, Louth and Horncastle – could eventually be included as companies step up the search for coal and gas.
The Bardney proposal features part of the Limewoods National Nature Reserve – a site of Special Scientific Interest.
Greenpeace has already condemned the licences, accusing the Government of going back on a promise of not allowing fracking at protected sites – including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
Elizabeth Bishop, who lives near Wragby, said the proposals were ‘appalling’.
She said: “The Limewoods are stunning and contain some wonderful walks and wildlife.
“To think companies might start fracking there is appalling. It should be banned.”
Terry Johnson, who lives near Louth, called for the Government to think again.
He said: “The Wolds are an ANOB enjoyed by thousands of people but that won’t be the case if fracking is allowed.
“A lot of this has gone under the radar and I can’t believe more people – including our councillors – aren’t complaining.”
Campaign group Friends of the Earth has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to listen to local people.
Spokesman Chris Grean said: “Increasing evidence on the health and environmental impacts of fracking is emerging.
“He [David Cameron] needs to understand that local communities are rejecting fracking and demanding clean energy.”
Fracking involves drilling deep into the earth and companies involved must adhere to strict regulations.
When the bidding process for companies seeking licences to explore for onshore oil and gas was opened in 2014, former Business and Energy Minister Matthew Hancock said: “Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth.
“We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy.
“As one of the cleanest fossil fuels, shale gas can be a key part of the UK’s answer to climate change and a bridge to a much greener future.”
Lincolnshire County Council is the Planning Authority to consider requests for mineral extraction.
Coun Colin Davie, executive member for planning at Lincolnshire County Council insisted the licences were not a ‘green light’ for fracking in the county.
He said: “Any developer wishing to explore for oil or gas will still need to apply for planning permission and environmental permits. Local communities will have a chance to have their say as part of that planning process.
“If gas or oil deposits are found, the developer would then need to apply for planning permission again both for further appraisal and extraction, which may be done using conventional methods as opposed to fracking.”
He added that the geology of the areas where licences have been granted ‘suggests that the majority are unlikely to have shale gas deposits, so fracking seems unlikely’.
“The new licences would indicate that the locations in Lincolnshire where it looks likely that shale does exist is in the Marton and Torksey areas,” he said.
“The exploitation of this relies on it being commercially viable.