A borehole will be drilled through rocks in the county in a bid to unlock secrets from the Jurassic and Triassic periods.

The University of Exeter has been granted planning permission to drill an 850-metre borehole in rocks on Whitchurch Road, Prees as part of its studies into the earth’s history.

Shropshire Council has granted planning permission as it is believed the rocks of the Prees area are among the thickest and most complete in England from this period. 

The proposed drilling will be visible from the main A49 road and a limited number of residential properties.

However, this will only be for a period of 17 weeks, after which the land will be returned to agricultural use. 

Elizabeth Walker, planning manager for the university, said the study was taking place at a very important location.

She said: “A large-scale international programme of research is currently being undertaken to acquire new data to understand the Triassic and Jurassic periods of Earth history. 

“The development proposed at Prees, Shropshire, involves deep drilling and recovery of rock core samples that represent about 20 million years of geological time. 

“The proposed development requires the drilling of a vertical borehole to a total depth of 850m in order to obtain continuous 10cm-diameter core samples from 15m to 850m depth for scientific analysis. 

“To maintain hole stability, steel casing will be installed across the shallower sections of the borehole. 

“On completion of the drilling and coring programme, the borehole will be logged using an array of geophysical logging tools run on a wireline. Firstly, inside the coring pipe, then in intervals in the deeper open hole section.”

She added: “If consented, the proposed development would contribute to fundamental science goals. 

“In particular, the work will lead to a step-change in knowledge of the geological timescale, rates of past environmental change, and history of planetary motions in the Triassic and Jurassic solar system. 

“Cores will be stored permanently at the British Geological Survey National Core Repository in Keyworth, Nottingham. 

“The cores will be available in perpetuity for further scientific study. The proposed development is temporary and reversible.”

She finished: “Following completion of the restoration phase, the council will be invited to inspect the site to ensure that the work meets with its approval. 

“An aftercare programme will then be undertaken over a period of five years. This will ensure the successful restoration of the land to its previous condition.”