ETON-EDUCATED Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames has been condemned by his Ribble Valley colleague Nigel Evans for suggesting ‘fracking’ should be piloted in the Trough of Bowland.

The outspoken friend of Prince Charles, defending his Mid-Sussex seat at next week’s general election, told a public meeting the East Lancashire beauty spot would be the perfect place to try out the controversial drilling process to see if it is safe.


Mr Evans promised ‘to have a word’ with Sir Nicholas and suggested siting nuclear power stations in Sussex.

Burnley Green candidate Mike Hargreaves, who is also lead singer of the punk band The Notsensibles, said the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill was ‘an out of touch Tory toff’ - adding that the Queen would not be pleased if her chosen retirement place was despoiled by fracking.

Sir Nicholas told a recent hustings meeting in Haywards Heath that he was a supporter of fracking. Responding to heckling, he said: “I am in favour.

Lancashire Telegraph:

“I think Britain has a very well-established, extremely effective framework for onshore drilling.

“But in Sussex I do say ‘no,’ because we can’t frack in very built-up areas.

“It’s a silly thing to do.

“There isn’t the infrastructure for thousands of trucks thundering through the place in a heavily populated area.

“Where do I think it should be?

“I would go and start in the Trough of Bowland in Lancashire, which is a very underpopulated area. I think it would be a very good place to start.”

The British Geological Society identified the M65 corridor from the north of Blackburn through to Burnley, Nelson and Colne and down the Rossendale Valley as sitting on reserves of shale gas which would be suitable for ‘fracking’.

Mr Evans, seeking to retain the Ribble Valley seat he has held since 1992, said: “I am afraid Sir Nicholas is wrong.

“I shall be having words with him.

“The Trough of Bowland is a beauty spot unsuitable for fracking.

“I shall suggest to him that Sussex is a suitable place for a couple of nuclear power stations.”

Mr Hargreaves said: “Sir Nicholas is an out of touch Tory toff.

“This is a North/South and class divide thing.

“I am sure the Queen, who has said that if she abdicates she would like to retire to Dunsop Bridge, would be appalled at his suggestion her favourite beauty spot should be despoiled by fracking.

“We don’t want the modern day equivalent of coal mines in the Trough of Bowland.”