HEREFORDSHIRE Council has said that it would not be influenced by the Government in deciding if the controversial fracking practice should take place in the county.

It was reported last week that local authorities may be entitled to retain all business rates on potential fracking sites.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to fracture the rock and release shale oil gas.

Eastnor and Fownhope have both been identified by the Government as being potential fracking sites.

But, the council has said that it is unaware of any proposals to undertake fracking in the county and most of Herefordshire is not geologically suitable.

"Clearly, the council faces unprecedented cuts to funding received from the Government, however the recent announcement about local authorities being able to retain all business rates relating to fracking operations will not influence the council's determination of any planning applications that may be considered," said Andrew Ashcroft, assistant director of economic, environment and cultural services at Herefordshire Council.

"As with all planning applications, each proposal would be considered on its merits, taking into account national and local planning policies and all other material considerations."

Green campaigners in the county have also criticised the Goverment for offering "bribes" to councils who approve shale gas fracking projects.

"The Government's claims to 'localism' are empty without giving councillors truly free choices on how they can tax and spend," said Leominster town councillor Jenny Bartlett, who represents the Green Party.

"With such freedom, we would see investments in renewable energy and regeneration flourish, not the deeply unpopular and unnecessary fracking."