A vast reserve of shale gas has been discovered beneath Canterbury Cathedral, we can exclusively reveal.
Experts say the find will be worth millions of pounds but getting to the natural gas will have to involve fracking, the controversial technique that has sparked protests throughout the country.
Last night Cathedral bosses were refusing to comment on rumours that a test well is about to be drilled by Fuel Oil Opportunities Ltd, a US-based company whose share price has rocketed after a series of high-profile shale gas discoveries at sites of historical importance.
Fuel Oil Opportunities Ltd is hoping to exploit vast reserve of shale gas found underneath the Cathedral
FOO Ltd chief executive Desmond Rill Jr said: "This is an exciting discovery but it really is early days.
"We think we have found the UK's biggest store of shale gas.
"We have promised the Dean we will try to be careful. When we've gone, you will be hard-pressed to know we had set foot in the precincts."
Should Canterbury Cathedral bosses allow fracking to take place?
Fracking is a technique in which water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures along which fluids such as shale gas, petroleum, uranium-bearing solution, and brine water may migrate to the well.
Ian Byansell, energy expert at city firm J Oakes, said: "Shale gas is becoming increasingly important as a source of energy.
"For those lucky enough to have shale gas on their land, it will be a massive windfall worth millions. The price is going up all of the time.
"The crisis in Russia has concentrated everyone's minds on energy security.
"This find will stop us have to really on foreign suppliers."