A FRESH bid to urge the Government into a fracking u-turn is being launched in Worcestershire - amid fears councillors could lose crucial powers over it.

Two months ago we revealed how ministers want to smooth the process of securing fracking approval by taking it out of the hands of planning authorities.

Under the shake-up, overseen by Environment Secretary Liz Truss, fracking wells would become "nationally significant infrastructure projects" signed off at ministerial level.

The deputy chairman of Worcestershire County Council's planning committee is now launching an attempt to stave off the change.

Councillor Paul Denham wants chief executive Clare Marchant to write to Ms Truss and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark to get it ditched.

He says County Hall's planning committee already has widespread powers over issues like mineral extraction, so it makes no sense to take fracking away.

A motion is expected to be voted on at the authority's next full council meeting on Thursday, May 12 about it.

He said: "This isn't an anti-fracking motion, it's a motion concerned about the loss of democratic powers.

"It does seem very odd that we've got powers over mineral extraction but yet they seem to be taking fracking away."

His motion calls councillors best placed "to make decisions" over any applications to frack, given their accountability to local voters.

The motion has the backing of Worcestershire's Greenpeace campaigners, who have delivered the Labour politician some 'frack-free' cupcakes to County Hall in support.

Anna Frankel, from the branch, said: "This Government wants to strip councils of their powers to decide on fracking so they can push through their controversial plans."

A similar motion urging ministers to shelve the move was rejected by Worcester City Council in February, on the grounds the geology does not enable fracking anyway.

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

At the moment planning authorities have 16 weeks to either endorse or reject each application, and if they go over that timescale it is then fast-tracked to ministers.

Supporters of fracking point to the USA, where it has significantly boosted oil production and driven down gas prices, as well as guaranteeing gas security for America and Canada for about 100 years.

But it is opposed by environmentalists, with the risks including small earth tremors.