Firm aims to generate 'green gas' at sites planned for fracking

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A  renewable energy firm has submitted planning applications for schemes to generate "green gas" from grass - on sites where fracking is planned

Ecotricity has put in the applications for green gas mills at two sites in Lancashire, Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, where councillors originally turned down applications for the controversial process of fracking for shale gas.

Preston New Road has since been approved by the Government, while Roseacre Wood looks likely to be given the go-ahead.

Ecotricity, which has just been granted planning permission for its first green gas mill in Hampshire, one of six in development, said communities should be given the choice of hosting the renewable heating source instead of fracking.

The company says its programme uses species-rich grass grown on farmland which is harvested and put through a process known as anaerobic digestion to produce renewable gas for heating homes and buildings.

A report by Ecotricity claims there is enough grassland in Britain to provide almost all of the household gas that is needed, and could create a new industry supporting 150,000 jobs and creating £7.5 billion for the economy.

It will also cut carbon emissions, help create wildlife habitats, improve soils if grass is grown as a "break-crop" on arable land in rotation with food crops and provide income for farmers, the study said.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: "Local opposition to fracking is simply being ignored - it's the most unpopular energy source ever, but it's being forced on people by the Government.

"We want to show that there's an alternative to fracking - and start a local debate in the areas directly affected by it, in the same way we want to start a debate at the national level, including the House of Commons.

"It's important not just to oppose fracking, but to have an answer as to where Britain is going to get its gas from as North Sea supplies run out.

"Green gas is the new option - this is something that local communities should be able to choose instead of fracking, and something the Government should now consider."