PRESS RELEASE – Rash of Fracking applications in danger of becoming an epidemic of ‘Gasland’ proportions

Bridgend Green Party first became aware of three planning applications for fracking proposals in locations just to the north of Bridgend (Llangeinor/Bettws/Ognore Vale) by Centrica. We instigated a campaign against these proposals, but it did not not need to go very far as Centrica quickly withdrew their proposals from Bridgend CBC.
We could not relax for long. Investigations revealed that Centrica had 5 proposals before Neath Port Talbot CBC, two of which had approval. Then the proposal by Bridgend based Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd at Llandow came to light. Local residents quickly sought our help in opposing this, leading to websites, petitions, letter writing and public meetings.
Back in Bridgend, a proposal by UK Methane Ltd at Cwmdu, just outside Maesteg has come to light. I have asked for this and the Llandow proposal to be called for scrutiny by WAG. They insist obn going through this time consuming procedure for each application separately. I have now stumbled across yet another one in Bridgend CBC by Coastal Oil & Gas at Cwmcydfyw, between Llangynwyd and Bettws. This one was granted ‘temporary approval’ a couple of weeks ago.
I know of other applications over near Swansea, and there will be ones in RCT and Merthyr Tydfil,  but I cannot keep track of them all any more. The whole of the South Wales coalfield area (and a bit beyond) has already been licensed out by the Department of Energy. There could be applications anywhere, at any time. I initially wanted all coal bed methane applications called in, for reasons that should be becoming clear by now. We are facing a scattering of proposals that could occur at almost any random spot across the South Wales Coalfield area (and  bit beyond), at any time and from a wide range of PEDL licence holders, across numerous planning authorities. Dealing with each one separately is crazy and is only going to increase the probability of nasty consequences somewhere. As the consequences are so far reaching, some joined up thinking is desperately needed. Surely that is grounds for calling in.
The authorities seem to be literally out of their depth in having access to the right expertise in dealing with these subterranean activities. The threat to groundwater and the consequences for human health and wildlife are well documented. The WAG needs to take the initiative and recognise the unusual nature of the threat and the unsuitability of existing planning practices in dealing with it.The mere nature of the proposals should make this self-evident. They are not going to simply drill straight down. They are steering drills into horizontal (or near horizontal) beds that extend many hundreds of metres away from the surface site, under other peoples’ land (which may not even be in the local authority area that allows the proposal). Once fluids are put into the ground, they could access the water cycle and thereby have no bounds at all.
This is not a trivial or minor threat. Vast swathes of the USA have been blighted by fracking – and it all started with the same activitiies we are already beginning to witness, and which found their way around the local regulators in ways that seem likely to happen here too – unless something is done sooner rather than later. GASLAND is out on DVD. It is there as a stark warning of what we could witness here in South Wales.
Fossil fuel exploitation – coal – has wrought enough damage to the landscape of Wales and the health of miners. This threat could make all that pale into insignificance.
Andy Chyba
Bridgend Green Party

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