A PUBLIC meeting has been organised by a campaign group concerned about fracking taking place in of Bolton.

A second group will also be lobbying Bolton West MP Chris Green to speak out against the controversial process taking place in the borough — as concern about fracking in the area grows.

Both meetings have been organised in the wake of news last week that the government has agreed to offer a licence for exploratory drilling to take place in Horwich, Blackrod, Rivington and Belmont.

The licence will be offered to drilling firm Osprey which will explore whether it will be possible to carry out the controversial method of shale gas extraction in the area.

The government is also consulting on whether licences could be offered for land covering the entire rest of the Bolton borough.

The newly formed Horwich and Blackrod against Fracking group and Bolton's Liberal Democrats have organised a meeting for residents on Thursday September 3 at 7pm at the Horwich RMI club in Ramsbottom Road, Horwich.

Before that, the Bolton Against Fracking Group will be meeting Bolton West MP Chris Green tomorrow evening at The Cotton Tree pub in Prince Street at 7.30pm.

Joining the group will be Horwich North East Councillor Richard Silvester, who has declared that he will fight any plans to frack in the area.

On Saturday, he joined members of Bolton Against Fracking at a demonstration in Horwich Town Centre and called on residents to sign a petition against the plans.

He said: “There was an excellent response from the public at the weekend.

“As a borough councillor representing Horwich North East Ward, I am very concerned about the prospect of fracking coming to Horwich.

“I am against fracking and will oppose any plans to harm our local environment.

“The geology of Horwich is complex and local people will know that there are many underground streams and aquifers.

"It would be an absolute disaster if any of these became contaminated — residents can be assured that as their councillor, I will be campaigning against fracking in Horwich.”

Speaking about the meeting organised in September, Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Martin said: "While fracking may provide some short-term economic benefits, the long-term impact of shale gas extraction is still massively under-researched.

"There is potential for enormous environmental damage which could have a lasting impact on Horwich, Blackrod and the surrounding area.”

MP Chris Green has previously said he is “not ideologically opposed or in favour of fracking” but that the needs of his constituents will be his “priority” when looking at the issue.