LANCASHIRE campaigners against fracking have a highlighted a new US report highlighting the health risks associated with the controversial shale gas production process.

The study published earlier this week found that people living within one mile of active wells are at an increased risk of heart and neurological diseases, cancers and adverse birth outcomes.

The report was written by Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, a non-profit research institute; the University of California at Berkeley; and Harvey Mudd College.

News of the study follows fracking firm Cuadrilla starting exploratory drilling at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool last week.

There are fears that if the pilot is a success fracking could be extended along the M65 corridor in East Lancashire from from the north of Blackburn through to Burnley, Nelson and Colne and down the Rossendale Valley which has been identified as sitting on reserves of shale gas.

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “This new report validates our serious concerns about the potential health risks.

“The government has so far refused to consider minimum set-backs between fracking sites and places where people live, play and learn.

“With evidence mounting this issue can no longer be conveniently swept under the carpet.”