Campaigners accused of misleading residents over plans to extract methane at Llys Nini animal centre in Penllergaer
CAMPAIGNERS opposed to proposed test drilling for methane gas in Penllergaer have been accused of misleading residents by raising fears over fracking.
But opponents to the planned test borehole, which was given the go-ahead by Swansea Council this week, have claimed serious concerns remain over the plans, including potential environmental pollution.
The application proposes the test drilling at the Llys Nini animal centre, which wants to establish whether the boreholes could allow methane to be used as a clean energy source for small-scale electrical generation at the RSPCA centre.
Members of Swansea Council's planning committee meeting were told there had been 163 letters of objection about the scheme.
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A representative from Safe Energy Wales, part of the UK-wide network of groups campaigning against "extreme energy extraction", spoke to councillors about their concerns.
Uplands councillor John Bayliss also urged caution, citing potential seepage of methane during drilling.
But Penllergaer councillor Wendy Fitzgerald said she believed protesters had been misleading by repeatedly referring to fracking, the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.
She said: "Out of the 163 letters of objection received, 150 or so referred to fracking, which was not what the application was about at all.
"The banner of the Greens, who staged a protest against the application outside the Civic Centre, was likewise misleading as there would be no fracking or coal gasification even if extraction of coal bed methane had been part of the application, which it was not, because this is carried out by a completely different process. These people seem to operate their campaign on fiction not facts.
"Councillor Bayliss called the application in because of fracking, and it is a total misunderstanding of the application."
She added that a leaflet delivered to homes in the area raising the issue referred to fracking on three of the four pages.
Keith Ross, of Safe Energy Wales, said: "The leaflet made it clear on the front page what was our concern, the rest was background information about possible future implications.
"This application proposes going down to up to 1,000 metres, that is not the depth of coal bed methane, which is thought to be at 300 metres, that has potential for shale gas."
Councillor Bayliss added: "During my contribution to the meeting, at no point did I make reference to fracking. Instead I focused purely on the problems associated with test drilling for methane which I believe could have an impact on the whole of Swansea, not just Councillor Fitzgerald's patch.
"I called in this application on the concern that it could impact the residents of my own ward in Uplands and Brynmill."