Coal firm's bid to produce energy from under estuary
A COMPANY wants to investigate whether coal under the Loughor Estuary can be "gasified" to produce energy.
Cluff Coal has applied to the Coal Authority, which owns the UK's coal seams, for a conditional underground coal gasification licence.
It's still very early days, and the Coal Authority is waiting for more information from the London-registered company before determining the application.
If it awarded Cluff Coal a conditional licence, the company would have to satisfy local authorities and the Environment Agency, among others, of its plans before being able to test drill.
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A Cluff Coal spokesman said: "The Government is keen to look at all sorts of different technologies to produce gas. We think underground coal gasification is something that can be progressed."
Cluff Coal has applied for 18 licences in different parts of the UK. Underground coal gasification, said the spokesman, had been demonstrated on a commercial basis in the US.
"The environmental checks are incredibly stringent," he said. "We have no intention to have an (adverse) effect on the local community or environment.
"Our application for the conditional licence is because we believe there is an opportunity there."
The estuary is a sensitive environmental site and forms part of the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries European Marine Site, designated under the European Union's Habitats and Birds Directives.
John Childs, of Swansea Friends of the Earth, said he had concerns about underground coal gasification, which has also been touted for Swansea Bay.
"It is a very experimental technique," he said.
"As far as I know, the ones here in Swansea Bay and the Loughor Estuary are the only ones to be considered for under the sea."