nb-si-fracking-220

One of several recent anti-fracking protests in the province. (CBC)

More than two dozen groups opposed to shale gas exploration met in Fredericton on Wednesday to form an alliance against natural gas development in New Brunswick.

There won't, however, be a formal coalition, or a leader speaking for everyone, said Jim Emberger, of the Taymouth Community Association.

Members will work together on strategy and events, but each group can opt out of any plans they don't feel comfortable with, he said.

Earlier this year, the Citizens for Responsible Resource Development ran into problems when it issued a statement on behalf of 600 people, saying it no longer felt a moratorium on shale gas exploration was necessary.

'Everybody gets their say and we come to some common goals that we want to achieve or a common event that we want to promote.'— Jim Emberger,Taymouth Community Association.

Many members disagreed with that decision, said Emberger.

Under the new network, that won't happen again, he said.

"The groups get together on teleconferences once a week and everybody gets their say and we come to some common goals that we want to achieve or a common event that we want to promote," he said.

"Now groups are free to opt out of them if they feel uncomfortable with anything we've said."

Each group will continue to carry out its own campaign to stop hydro-fracking.

While that may mean they can't put as much pressure on government and industry without a strong, unified voice, it may also mean they will be harder to attack for a specific statement or event, said Emberger.

"We can't be accused, en masse," he said. "It doesn't make it easier for them to say 'Ah, they did this'. Well, you know, there are lots of people here doing different things and that makes it a little harder for them to play defence."

Seismic testing is done to measure whether there's shale gas that can be extracted from the ground.

Opponents are specifically concerned if companies find gas deposits, they will attempt to get at those reserves by using the controversial process of hydro-fracking, which uses water mixed with chemicals and sand to access natural gas deposits. They worry the process will ruin their local water supplies.