Thousands of homes in Denbighshire could be open to fracking if after the UK Government decided to extend licences.
St Asaph, Trefnant, Llandyrnog, Llanarmon yn Ial, Llandegla, Llangollen and Ruthin could all be affected after the extension of licensing for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – for shale gas and coal bed methane – a move that is expected to affect around two-thirds of Welsh households.
The licences provide the first step to starting drilling – but do not give absolute agreement to drill.
On top of a licence, any further drilling application will then require planning permission, as well as permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.
AM Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru shadow minister for the environment, energy and rural affairs said: “Many people living in Denbighshire will be affected by this proposal to allow fracking under our homes as these areas have been licensed for exploration.
“This means that gas wells could be developed within a few hundred metres of people’s homes and, unbeknown to householders, drilling takes place directly under their homes.
“Fracking involves pumping a high-pressure cocktail of chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic, into shale and old coal seams up to 3000m below ground to fracture the rock and release gases.
“Developing a new carbon intensive source of energy is bad new for climate change. It also means wasting millions of gallons of water in a process that has the potential to contaminate underground water supplies, cause gas leakages and minor earthquakes.
“That’s why Plaid Cymru has been leading the way in calling for a moratorium on this old-fashioned exploration for fossil fuels. If we’re serious about safeguarding the environment for future generations, as well as avoiding subsidence and pollution, we must reject fracking and look forward to a greener Wales that also creates work and clean energy.
“Wales has huge potential to develop jobs and the economy through clean renewable energy – whether solar, hydro and tidal lagoons – rather than fracking.”
Councillor for Llandyrnog, Merfyn Parry, said: “I’m not against fracking, but I want to know more details about it before it goes ahead.
“We need energy and fuel for now and for future generations and so we need to look into ways of producing it, and fracking is an option.
“But what’s important is that there has to be an advantage for the area. It’s really important to have a full understanding of how fracking will work and the effect it will have before anything goes ahead.”
Matthew Hancock, Business and Energy Minister, said: “Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth.
“We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy. As one of the cleanest fossil fuels, shale gas can be a key part of the UK’s answer to climate change and a bridge to a much greener future.”
This latest expression of interest, which was opened on Monday, July 28, is set to cover 60 per cent of the UK, and planning permission may be granted in some National Parks and areas of natural beauty providing it is demonstrated to be in the public interest.
Chris Ruane, MP for the Vale of Clwyd, said: “The science and safety of fracking still needs to be proven in the UK.
“Fracking should not going ahead if it has an adverse effect on the environment and even then the contribution of locations like the Vale of Clwyd to providing the energy needs of the country needs to be taken into account.
“I have pursued this issue in the House of Commons over the past few years in Parliament and I will be watching this situation carefully on how it impacts on the Vale of Clwyd.”