Political figures in Dartford have clashed over the possibility fracking may take place in the town.

Labour’s parliamentary candidate Simon Thomson accused council leader Jeremy Kite and MP Gareth Johnson of "keeping residents in the dark" on the issue.

The attack comes after the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced which areas of Britain where fracking licences have not already been granted are available for companies to apply for one.

Dartford is one of many parts of the country open for applications to carry out the controversial procedure.

Mr Thomson said: "People in Dartford will be alarmed at the thought of fracking taking place under their feet.

"I don’t believe residents will feel assured when they have been kept in the dark over this by both Gareth Johnson and the leader of the council.

"People are right to ask exactly how long Conservative leaders in Dartford have known that our town was being licensed for fracking and why they haven’t told local residents."

But Mr Johnson hit back, saying the claims were "Dartford Labour Party at its worst."

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Labour parliamentary candidate Simon Thomson. 

He said: "These claims are completely untrue. No licences have even been applied for let alone granted.

"Dartford is no different to most of the rest of the country in that no fracking can take place without planning permission, consent from the Health and Safety Executive and agreement from the Environment Department.

"Most shale gas in Kent is located well away from Dartford so I do not expect us to become a hot bed of fracking applications."

Councillor Kite added: "It’s just nonsense from Labour really and it’s so childish.

"Frankly I would be really surprised if there ever was an application for fracking here.

"The issue is an important one. I am no fan of fracking – I don’t like it, I’m suspicious of it and I don’t really want it in Dartford."

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers by the injection of a highly pressurised mixture of chemicals, water and sand to create new channels from which gas can be collected.