A MAJOR debate on shale gas extraction, fracking, and its implications for East Lancashire is set to take place on Monday.

Last December the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that swathes of the M65 corridor from north of Blackburn through Burnley, Pendle and parts of the Rossendale Valley could be potential sites for the process – the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock to reclaim gas.

And North East Lancashire TUC is now bringing together the main supporters of the process and two opponents for a public forum at Burnley Mechanics.

The announcement comes as East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and three leading academics have thrown their weight behind the fracking cause.

Mike Damms, chief executive of the local chamber, has backed economics professors Jim Taylor, Alasdair MacBean and Robert Rothschild, of Lancaster University, who have signed a letter to the Financial Times, calling on politicians to stop using fracking as a ‘political football’ and work towards safely developing it as an alternative energy source.

The Burnley event will see officials from Cuadrilla, already granted licences on the Fylde, debate with two environmentalists on the subject of fracking.

In opposition will be Dr Brian Parkin, from Leeds University, and Martin Empson, who has wrote several environmental works.

Peter Thorne, of the TUC group, said: “The debate will be held in Question Time style with speakers given 10 minutes for their opening remarks and then questions from the audience.”

Organisers are urging people to attend and hear the arguments from both sides, covering a range of perceived benefits and disadvantages, at the Manchester Road venue from 7.30pm.