FRACKING protestors wearing gas masks stood outside the Total garage in Castle Lane West today.

The small group, part of Frack Free Dorset, waved signs and blew kisses at cars for much of Saturday afternoon.

Corfe Mullen resident Frances Leader said: “We are individuals who have come together to try and stop fracking.

“There has been a very good response to us today – we’ve been standing here for about an hour and lots of people have been waving and beeping at us.

"The police came too but they were very nice and really seemed to understand what we’re doing here today.”

Hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking – is a technique used to extract hydrocarbons trapped in certain types of rock.

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that an exploratory gas well will be drilled in Purbeck after planning permission was secured from Dorset County Council.

The 24-hour drilling work, extending out under the sea to search for natural gas in offshore Triassic Sherwood sandstone, is expected to begin earlier this year.

If gas is found, a six-month evaluation period will follow, after which a new application would be required to extract at the site, at California Quarry in Panorama Road.