Green campaigners warn fracking could cover whole of Bridgend county borough

The whole of Bridgend county is under threat from fracking, a leading green campaigner has warned.

Friends of the Earth Cymru director Gareth Clubb revealed licences for the exploration of shale gas and other unconventional gas extraction have been granted county-wide.

Although this only allows companies to drill test boreholes, Mr Clubb and fellow green campaigners fear the operations could lead to full-scale fracking – a controversial method of extracting methane that has been linked to earth tremors.

Mr Clubb was speaking at a public meeting organised by Sustainable Wales at the Y Centre in Porthcawl on Monday night.

The following day he joined an anti-fracking protest outside the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, at which he called on Assembly members to impose a moratorium on the technology in Wales until more evidence is gathered on how it affects the environment and the community.

Mr Clubb told the 60-strong audience gathered in Porthcawl that, after a planned licence sale by central government next year, the whole of the South Wales coalfield area could be affected by fracking or other unconventional gas extraction.

“This is something that is likely to develop unless we can put a stop to it,” he said.

He said that England “is going down the path of a mad frenzied rush to unconventional gas extraction” which does not need to be repeated in Wales.

“We think it’s time for a moratorium on this type of technology in Wales,” he said. “The Welsh Government have the powers to do it, what it doesn’t have currently is the will.”

Fracking is the process by which a mixture of water and chemicals is forced into the ground at high pressure, which produces fissures in the shale which releases methane. This can be used to produce electricity.

Mr Clubb said licences for the exploration of shale gas and other unconventional gas extraction including coalbed methane and underground coal gasification – both of which involve drilling into the earth – have already been granted in most parts of South Wales.

“Bridgend county is the only county that is entirely covered by existing shale gas licences,” he said. “Large parts of Rhondda Cynon Taff and the Vale of Glamorgan are also covered,” he added.

Anti-fracking campaigners claim the process causes pollution of the water supply and earth tremors.

Mr Clubb said: “Whatever comes back up [from fracking] is contaminated with whatever happens to be there – salts, metals and radioactivity which is naturally occurring.”

He added fracking also requires dozens of lorry movements every day as thousands of tonnes of water needs to be bought in for the process to work.

Prime Minister David Cameron and the government has expressed its support for shale gas as a way of ensuring energy security for the UK. But Welsh Conservative AM for South Wales West Suzy Davies told the meeting that the Welsh Tories are far more cautious.

However, she said that the benefits of the energy source should not be dismissed yet.

Bridgend-based Coastal Oil and Gas have lodged plans for three test drilling sites in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The Vale council will discuss them next week.

Article source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/green-campaigners-warn-fracking-could-6097600