THREE Herefordshire villages have been revealed as potential sites that could release shale gas.

Eastnor, Fownhope and Much Marcle have all been identified by the Government as areas that could see the controversial fracking practice taking place.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to fracture the rock and release shale gas.

But, the procedure has attracted criticism from some environmental groups which fear it will lead to earthquakes and pollution of water sources.

Councillor Russell B Hamilton, cabinet member for environment, housing and planning, said that full planning permission would need to be obtained due to the depths required to prospect for natural shale gas and none have been received so far.

“Whilst we cannot rule out receiving any fracking applications in the future, the available geological maps suggest there are many more lucrative sites identified elsewhere in Britain, which are likely to be explored first," he said.