Fracking campaigners in South Yorkshire say the Government has a ‘real fight on its hands’ as land is opened for exploration.
Large swathes of the county, and north Derbyshire, are being opened up to companies for exploration.
The Government says jobs will be created and an energy source provided by the controversial extraction of gas from shale deposits - but campaigners fear there will be no benefit to residents as the gas can be exported and it will cause mass pollution of water and air.
Doncaster Town Coun David Shaw, from Frack Free South Yorkshire which has hundreds of supporters and is based in Doncaster, said: “Now we will be going out in the areas affected, we will be putting out tens of thousands of information leaflets, holding public meetings as well as activating people in those communities to start their own groups and get their views known because the Government and the industry does not have the social licence to do this,
“We are not going to take it lying down - they have a real fight on their hands.
“We have already made a difference so far as they are two years behind schedule, they have been knocked back and there are only two wells which have been fracked.”
A total of 27 new licences, mostly in the north of England, have been awarded to companies to explore for oil and gas as the Government looks to push forward with a shale industry in the UK.
Areas being exploredare to the east of Sheffield – stretching from Killamarsh and Dinnington up past Rotherham towards Bolton-upon-Dearne. A further 132 areas – many in the region to the west and south of Sheffield – will also be awarded subject to further tests.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh has launched a petition calling for the process to be halted, which she will raise in Parliament.
She said: “This smacks of a government which is intent on pursuing fracking at all costs and is prepared to ride roughshod over the very real concerns of local residents.”
Greenpeace has estimated that around 30 miles of the Peak District could be fracked and the RSPB has said that blocks of land offered to fracking companies include a nature reserves in Dearne Valley.
Meanwhile in Worksop, north Nottinghamshire, MP John Mann hit out at the news that Swiss company INEOS has been awarded a licence to explore for shale gas on a block of land to the north and north west of Worksop.
Mr Mann said: “INEOS have yet to identify the precise location of the drilling site(s) but I’m repeating my call that I‘ve already made in Parliament that there should be no fracking at all within 2km of a village or town. This was sadly blocked by the Government.
“However, what is essential is that local people must have a say on any planning applications that come forward and I will be able to assist any Bassetlaw residents who are affected by this”.