The Welsh Government's being urged to clarify its policy on Underground Coal Bed Gasification.
Last week, Swansea Council passed a motion to begin the process of banning unconventional gas development in Swansea, but residents in Llangyfelach are seeking further clarity following the granting of planning permission last month to UK Methane to drill an “exploratory bore hole” at Bryntywood nearby.
Campaigners at Pontryhdyfen in the Afan Valley are also calling for answers, following the recent granting of a permit by Natural Resources Wales for the drilling of a borehole at Foel Fynyddau, which they fear will inevitably lead to gas extraction activity.
Welsh Conservative Regional AM Dr Altaf Hussain has now written to the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sergeant, seeking urgent clarification of Welsh Government policy and the Planning advice issued to local authorities.
Dr Hussain said: “I understand that a number of unconventional gas licenses are held by Clean Coal Ltd and Cluff Natural Resources plc with a view to coal bed gasification activity underneath the Loughour Estuary. Underground Coal Bed Gasification is not the same thing as ‘Fracking’ – it is a largely untested process that may have the potential to lead to sudden subsidence, posing a risk to the geology of the area.
He added, “A clear distinction must be drawn between the different types of unconventional gas activity and the planning guidance should be clear in each case. The guidance needs to be crystal clear, for the benefit of all parties concerned. Urgent clarity is required as to exactly what types of activity are permitted and which are contrary to official policy. It should be possible to provide clear answers – at present, the situation seems to remain ambiguous.
“This can be an emotive issue, but it is an obvious example where the precautionary principle should apply. No extraction activity should ever take place without robust guarantees that the activity poses no risk to the public or the environment”.