THE company which has pulled out of fracking in south Herefordshire said it is not “going away.”

This week it was announced that South Western Energy Ltd has declined some of the fracking licences offered to it from the government, including the licence which covered the Whitchurch area. 

Gerwyn Williams, director of South Western Energy, said: "We have decided not to accept Wiltshire areas or Gloucestershire and south Herefordshire. We have also opted to relinquish some areas of existing licences in south Wales.

"We have retained the more prospective areas in Wales, Dorset and Somerset.

"The main reason is to minimise our financial exposure during a period of low energy prices and uncertain future energy prices.

"Gas prices are low now; we know that shale gas will work safely and UK production in the near future will further reduce energy prices so now is not the time to be spending large amounts of money on exploration. There are huge known gas reserves in the UK.

"We need to remember that this licensing round was launched in July 2014, over two years ago, a lot has changed since then.

"We haven’t encountered much objection in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire or Herefordshire. What communications we have had in all of these areas has been very well mannered."

He added: "Public pressure is certainly not an issue, as can be demonstrated by our decision to give back areas in Wales that we have held for many years and have spent very substantial amounts of money on.

"We have been in this business for over 20 years onshore UK, we are not going away. If energy prices improve we may re-apply, out of round if necessary, for some of the areas in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Our short term focus is gas production in Wales whereby we can help protect existing jobs in heavy industry and hopefully create many new jobs."

A Herefordshire grandfather dressed as Gandalf is continuing on his journey to Westminster to deliver his anti-fracking message.

Rick Guest, 66, began his Tolkien style quest dressed as Gandalf to raise awareness about fracking licences in Herefordshire’s Wye Valley and the neighbouring Forest of Dean, in August.

On Wednesday he took a boat across the River Severn and planned to then make his way to Oxford and thereafter, Westminster.

Mr Guest is continuing his trek to support other counties which could be affected by fracking.

He plans to post a tractor linchpin to 10, Downing Street.

He said: "The idea of the tractor pin as the ring is symbolic because it is an ordinary thing from the countryside that has enormous power.

"Just like us, the people of the shires who are standing up in their hundreds and thousands and saying we will not accept this wanton destruction of our countryside and water supplies."