AMs show support for fracking moratorium call
AMs in Swansea and South West Wales have indicated support for a moratorium on unconventional gas exploration in Wales.
The Post canvassed opinion ahead of a demonstration at the Senedd by a coalition on September 24.
The environmental groups involved will urge Assembly Members to sign a moratorium motion until unconventional gas extraction has been proven to be safe elsewhere in the UK and not threaten UK carbon budgets.
Unconventional gas exploration covers technologies including hydraulic fracturing - dubbed fracking - which is widespread in the US, and underground coal gasification, which has been proposed for the Loughor Estuary.
Test drilling for gas has taken place near Clydach, with test drilling permission granted for the RSPCA Llys Nini Animal Centre, Penllergaer, and woodland near Cwmavon, among others.
South Wales West AM Peter Black backed a moratorium, saying there were “many unanswered questions”.
Swansea East AM Mike Hedges also urged caution and has written to the Welsh Government asking what powers it had over fracking and whether councils would have their own environment impact assessment before any drilling took place.
South Wales West AM Suzy Davies said there was conflicting evidence about safety and queried the economic benefit to the region.
“I’m not convinced it would be a big employer,” she said.
South Wales West AM Bethan Jenkins said she had called for a moratorium this summer, was particularly worried about the Loughor Estuary, and wondered about the impact generally on the South Wales Coalfield, which has seen generations of mining activity.
South Wales West AM Byron Davies echoed Ms Jenkins’s Loughor Estuary concerns, said drilling companies had to provide safety assurances. He also urged the Welsh Government to provide more guidance.
Neath AM Gwenda Thomas opposed the motion, saying fuel poverty was such a big issue that any technology to potentially alleviate it should not be ignored, subject to consideration of the evidence.