THE Cotswolds could become one of the country’s next fracking locations in as little as six months, according to local experts.

Fracking, which involves drilling deep into the earth to release natural gas, could come to the region when the government auctions fracking licenses for the south of England in March of next year.

Dr Jonathan Whittaker, who has conducted extensive research into fracking, is adamant that the controversial process is on its way to Gloucestershire.

He said: “The Cotswolds will be one of the locations chosen because it is located in these bank of hills that runs all the way from Kent to South Wales.

“Wherever there is coal, that’s where they’ll look and I believe there are coal deposits in the Cotswolds.”

Dr Whittaker told the Standard that the fracking process requires a lot of water, something Cotswold Water Park could easily provide.

He said: “When the fracking companies see those lakes in South Cerney, they’ll probably rub their hands together with glee.”

Fracking has caused controversy all over the country recently with thousands of protesters settings up sites in locations in the North East and West Sussex.

A document that was leaked to a national newspaper in 2011 claimed that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) had identified the Cotswolds as an area with shale gas potential.

A spokesman for DECC said: “There has been no previous oil and gas exploration drilling in the Cotswolds and there is no evidence of prospective shales in the area."

Speaking on the proposal to bring fracking to the Cotswolds, Dr Whittaker said: “I love this area and if fracking came here I believe it would completely destroy it.”

Dr Whittaker’s views on fracking were reinforced by Green Party member, Bob Irving.

He said: “Fracking is a disaster and un-necessary. I think it could have a severe effect on the Cotswold landscape, I’ve heard that they would have to drill 110,000 well just to get ten per cent of the gas down there.”

However, James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, spoke out in support of fracking.

He said: “We mustn’t get a lot of people concerned on the idea too soon, I think scare stories about drilling 100,000 holes have been put out to put people off.

“If fracking can deliver our energy needs for generations to come then I’m very much in favour of it.”

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for the Cotswolds, also spoke of the fracking proposals.

He said: “It would be incredibly important that in any instance of fracking taking place in the Cotswolds that there is an extensive public consultation so local residents will be able to make their views clear on any potential applications.”

Mr Clifton-Brown also told the Standard that he would vigorously defend any constituents who are concerned about fracking.