A DOZEN anti-fracking protesters held a demonstration on the steps of Burnley Town Hall in a bid to raise the issue with councillors.

Keep East Lancashire Frack Free (KELFF), which opposes drilling for shale gas, waved placards and issued leaflets to members of the public in Manchester Road.

Burnley councillors promised to keep tabs on the controversial method after it was raised during a full council public question time.

KELFF member Jane Curran said: “Unconventional gas exploration is a ridiculous idea. Four hundred thousand jobs could be created by 2020 using clean energy. There can never be a guarantee that UK energy users would benefit from fracking.

“Shale gas should not be relied on for energy security. The UK’s geography means we don’t have wide open spaces away from the population and agriculture.

“Surveys have shown that less than half of the UK population support fracking. There are 130 groups in the country opposing it. The risk of fracking is not going away and neither are we.”

Coun Marcus Johnstone, said that although planning permission for exploratory drilling - such as that planned by Cuadrilla near Preston - lay with Lancashire County Council, Burnley Council would be a statutory consultee on all fracking proposals.

His Labour colleague and new council leader, Coun Mark Townsend, said: “It’s clear fracking provokes strong opinions, both for and against, and as someone who passionately believes in open public debates on key issues, I think that’s a healthy position.

“Other parts of the county are more advanced in terms of industry interest and formal applications, but I am sure interest will expand quickly.

“This council is clear that its focus is on supporting economic growth. We are recognised nationally for our enterprise and advanced manufacturing.

“Any potential industrial development that could increase Burnley’s economic base and competitiveness is one we should engage in debate on in an open-minded way.”