Anti Fracking Campaigners Gather in Swansea City Centre to Galvanise Support
A SMALL but enthusiastic knot of anti fracking campaigners hit Swansea's Union Street today,(Saturday Octeober 19) to voice their concerns about plans to use the process to extract gas in South Wales.
Protesters gathered to leaflet passers-by and to add their weight to an international day of action, now that seven sites in Swansea have been given the green light by Swansea Council for fracking exploration work to be done.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock, and sites in Felindre, Clydach and Pontardawe have been earmarked for exploratory drilling.
The local action was organised by Swansea based Safe Energy Wales, who are collecting signatures for a petition calling on the Government to impose a halt on the extraction of gas from Wales's shale formations and coal seams, until all the impacts and associated risks are fully understood.
Earlier this month the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey said the plans for fracking sat comfortably with the UK's targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that it could be a key to reducing our reliance upon expensive imported gas.
But on Saturday, protester Robert Williams, 33, who lives in Swansea Marina says he is concerned Wales will become a guinea pig for the controversial work.
"We are one of the first areas in the UK to have the tests and we have a lot of coal in Wales so the country is going to feel it."
And while there might be a temptation, says Robert, to think this new industry could go some way to replace the vastly decimated coal industry here, they would be short sighted hopes.
"From what is happening in the US you can see the affect is short lived.
"The wells work for 2 years at high volume, they push chemicals down which crack the rock and once the initial gas has gone they move on, and move on.
"The issue is that you have lots of wells which churn up a lot of land.
"That is a lot of industrialisation for what will probably be a very short lived power.
The possibility of water and air pollution are his main concerns.
"They use leads, sulphuric acid and barbiturates. And in the ground there is uranium. When you drill, that uranium is extracted back up in the water.
"Welsh water don't have uranium treatment plant in the UK because it is not something you would normally deal with. So how do you dispose of that?"
John Childs, from Friend of the Earth, says money should be diverted into more environmentally sound areas of energy generation, like solar.
"The sun can produce 5,000 times the energy the whole world needs. It is just that we don't have the technology to exploit it yet and government is wasting its money diggng holes in the ground when they could be being more constructive.
"If you spend the money to develop the technology then new things will come about.
"The space race produced an enormous amount of technology in a very short period of time because of the money spent on it."