A FRACKING boss answered questions at a packed meeting in Northwich on Monday lunchtime.

Gary Haywood, chief executive of INEOS Shale, spoke about how gas is used in the UK and why the country should produce its own before explaining the process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

"This is to give you an idea of what this fracking is about," he said.

"If you believe what you read in the papers the world is going to come to an end but that's not how we see it."

Mr Haywood was speaking at the Rotary Club of Northwich's special speaker meeting at Winnington Park Recreation Club following the announcement that INEOS has been granted a licence to explore for shale gas in the rock below mid Cheshire.

He explained that in fracking a well is drilled 3km down, which is lined in layers of steel and concrete, then the well is drilled horizontally to allow access to the shale gas.

A mix of 98 per cent water, 1.5 per cent sand and 0.5 per cent of chemicals, which Mr Haywood assured the meeting were benign, are then fired into the horizontal well at high pressure, which fractures the rock and releases the gas.

A well can produce gas for around 20 years.

Mr Haywood said the wells were much deeper than the salt caverns of mid Cheshire and should not affect them.

"If we're drilling through small voids we might grout them and fix them," he said.

"In a minor way it could help some small areas.

"There is no reason that what we are doing should have an impact on subsidence."

Mr Haywood was asked if INEOS would pay its taxes in the UK, which he assured the meeting it would, about the potential for earthquakes and about regulation.

"The regulator is going to have to double its resources to cope with this industry going forward," he said.

"The government is fully prepared to do that and is planning to do it as the industry ramps up."

For more information visit ineosupstream.com or email shale.information@ineos.com.