COUNTY councillors have made it clear they do not want to see fracking ever take place in Herefordshire.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of extracting gas and oil from shale rock which involves drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Sand, water and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

Fracking has proved controversial as it uses huge amounts of water and the process can cause earth tremors.

Environmentalists also say carcinogenic chemicals may escape during drilling and contaminate nearby groundwater.

However, industry representatives say pollution is the result of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.

But Government policy has moved away from this form of energy extraction and now a specific policy for fracking is set to be removed from Herefordshire Council’s plan for minerals and waste.

Professional consultant Kirsten Berry told this week’s general scrutiny committee meeting that there had been important changes to the plan.

“One of the key changes is in relation to unconventional hydrocarbons, fracking as it is commonly known,” she said.

“When we prepared the draft plan, national policy was very much recognising the benefits of using fracking and onshore oil and gas for transition to low carbon.

“But ministerial written statement last year that intention has been removed.

“I’m aware of the resolutions in Herefordshire that are against fracking and recognising from the evidence we have it looks very unlikely that you would actually experience an application for working on unconventional hydrocarbons in Herefordshire.

“So, in recognising the update in the national position we’ve taken that policy out altogether.

Councillor William Wilding said he thought a policy which said the county would never have fracking would be positive.

“We should have a policy which absolutely says no to fracking.”

However, officers told the meeting a policy specifically banning fracking could make their plan legally unsound.