A FRACKING firm could apply for planning permission to drill in areas of East Lancashire.

Osprey Oil and Gas Ltd has been granted a licence for shale gas exploratory works to take place in an area covering Hyndburn, Burnley and Pendle.

Operations will also cover the area around Whalley in the Ribble Valley.

But the licences do not give the applicants permission to drill and they must apply to the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, local councils, the Oil and Gas Authority and the Department for Energy and Climate Change with an evidence-based report.

Cllr Ken Moss said he expects Osprey Oil and Gas Ltd to apply for planning permission later this year.

He said: “Three extant licenses have been granted over the past three years.

“But I’ve now been informed that Osprey Oil and Gas Ltd are going to be applying for planning permission later this year for the exploratory works.”

Cllr Moss has launched a petition opposing moves to introduce fracking in Hyndburn.

The online petition is on the change.org website, while he said he will also bring a motion to a future Hyndburn council meeting.

Cllr Moss said: “My main concerns about fracking are damage to infrastructure and cost to the police.

“Protests in West Lancashire against Cuadrilla being granted permission to drill have cost police £7m.

“I don’t want to see these protests repeated here.

“I’d also be concerned about the impact on the local transport network and local businesses and the taxpayer.

“There will also be a financial cost and Hyndburn residents will not get their money’s worth from fracking.

“The government have an environment department and moves to frack seem to be a step backwards.

“We should focus on investing in green, renewable energy instead.”

Cllr Moss said he will also express his concerns in writing to MP Greg Clark, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.

Fracking involves drilling into the earth and then releasing gas inside rock by using high-pressure water.

Green groups have raised concerns over the environmental impact and safety of the process, but pro-fracking groups say the untapped resource could spark a jobs boom and economic revival in drilling areas.

To view the petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/oppose-fracking-in-hyndburn-and-east-lancashire