Appeal For Controversial Gas Drilling In Wrexham Given Go Ahead
A controversial appeal to test drill for underground gas in Wrexham has been given the go ahead – despite concerns raised by local residents and Wrexham Council.
A Planning Inspector has granted the go ahead for GP Energy to drill on land near Commonwood Farm, Borras, depsite an initial refusal by Wrexham’s Planning Committee.
The planning application to drill in Borras was initially rejected by Wrexham Councillors at the start of the year, who raised concerns over environmental issues and the lack of information on the actual drilling process.
However Clive Nield, an Inspector appointed by Welsh Ministers has granted the appeal, stating: “I consider the proposal would not be unsustainably located and that risks of it causing pollution, geological instability or subsidence would be negligible. The proposal would be in accordance with development plan and national policy.”
Mr Nield writes: “The appeal is allowed and planning permission is granted for site preparation, the drilling of an appraisal borehole (requiring 24 hour operation) to remove a core of coal for sampling, and restoration of the site following cessation of the drilling operations, which are anticipated to take approximately 60 days and a maximum of 75 days, in part of a field to the west of Commonwood Farm and south of Borras Road, Commonwood, Holt, Wrexham.”
Initial concerns raised by Wrexham Council are also addressed by Mr Nield in his report, stating that mitigation measures to reduce the level of noise would be implemented and a ban on HGV’s having access to the site in the hours 7am – 7pm would be put in place.
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Llyr Gruffydd, has since spoke of his ‘disappointment’ with the decision of the planning inspectorate – adding that it is ‘no real surprise’.
Mr Llyr Gruffydd added: “This is just the opening shot in what will be a long battle to safeguard the environment and protect our communities. Fracking has no place in Borras or any other part of Wales. The next battle will be the full planning application – it’s clear that the councillors are opposed to fracking and it’s important a strong local campaign makes clear what public opinion is on this matter.”
Last month Mr Gruffydd called for a moratorium on fracking in Wales and called on the Welsh Government to use its planning powers to block the exploitation of the carbon intensive fossil fuel until fundamental questions on safety and climate change are answered.
The proposed gas drilling in Borras is expected to take three – four months, with Mr Nield writing: “Two weeks to set up, 2-2½ months [at most] to drill the borehole, and 2 weeks to clear and reinstate the site), and there would be no lasting long-term effects on the landscape. Thus any adverse effects would be very short-lived, and I consider them to be negligible in landscape terms and of little significance in visual impact.”
Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary candidate for Wrexham, said: “This test borehole could open the door for a flood of applications by fracking companies in the Wrexham and Flintshire area. But they should be aware that local opinion is behind the planning committee on this – people don’t want fracking and we believe it’s damaging both to the environment and the wider community. Drilling could take place under people’s homes within a three-mile radius of Borras – that’s thousands of houses in an area already prone to subsidence.
“One councillor said it was ‘drilling into the unknown’ – it certainly is. They’ll be drilling through an acquifer, drilling into old coal seams and workings with volatile pockets of methane. They will be using a cocktail of chemicals and fracturing the rock under high water pressure to free the gas – it’s an accident waiting to happen and it could happen on our doorstep.”
Since the decision was announced, an event titled ‘Protect Borras From Fracking Before It’s Too Late’ has since been organised for October 23rd at the Cunliffe Arms.
The description for the event states: “Fracking Drilling tests have been approved in Borras as of October 8th, when Wrexham Council’s decision to refuse permission for tests due to environmental dangers, was overturned by an outside body. We have to try and do what they could not. Wrexham is our home. If this happens in one part of Wrexham, it will soon happen in other parts. We need to stop these dangers before they start. For our children. For their future.”
More information on Frack Free Wrexham can be found on their Facebook page here.
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