THE hysteria over the threat of fracking in the Cotswolds is premature with little chance of opportunist energy companies targeting the area soon, according to experts.

Members of the Cotswold Conservation Board have been researching the subject following high profile fears in August 2013 that the procedure for extracting gas and oil from rocks was likely to target the district. Much of the Cotswolds sits on gravel which was thought to be key to fracking companies.

But the CCB reported back this week to say the district is at low risk and other parts of the UK would almost certainly be targeted first.

About half of Britain, including the entire Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, sits above a potential fracking zone.

Land management officer Mark Connelly said that other areas of the country are richer in gas compared to the Cotswolds.

“Much of the area under the Cotswolds is not well explored but the work that has been done show that it’s not really worth it,” he added.

He said studies had shown shale deposits in the Cotswolds were ‘immature’, as was the Oxford clay outcrop. However, he said the Cambrian shales in the Severn Vale could be a more viable target.

However, chairman of Frack Free Cotswolds, Dr Jonathan Whittaker, said that while coming to the Cotswolds may not be high priority at the moment for fracking companies, he believed the district remained at risk.

“There is more oil than gas in the Cotswolds and oil is 300 times more profitable,” he said. “The district is more at risk than we think.”

Despite officers at CCB saying they would still be keeping an eye on the possibility of fracking in the Cotswolds, Dr Whittaker believes they should not let their guard down.

“The government is making it very easy for fracking companies,” he added. “If companies suddenly wanted to come here then we could not stop them.”

The CCB has said it will keep the issue under review.

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