Concern about fracking in Vale
9:01am Thursday 17th October 2013 in Letters
IT was with some concern that I see the Vale of Glamorgan council has permitted test drilling for Coal Bed Methane, which may ultimately involve fracking.
Fracking is banned in France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and parts of Germany, such are the concerns about its impact. The fracking techniques involve pumping a cocktail of chemicals such as arsenic and benzene, a known carcinogenic, deep underground. There are also environmental concerns over contamination of groundwater as well as possible earth tremors, such as the ones that occurred near Blackpool and prompted a temporary ban by the same UK government that is now so gung-ho about the matter. Even test drilling can involve these techniques.
Wales has abundant sources of renewable energy, e.g. solar, hydro, wind and tidal energy. At the moment, unfortunately, most energy developments are not devolved and therefore the voice of Welsh communities directly affected by any fracking is not being heard.
What is also clear is that a new 'dash for gas' in the form of fracking would have a negative impact on developing renewable energy sources such as small-scale hydro-electric schemes, offshore wind, tidal lagoons and solar panels. The UK government seems to be throwing all its energy eggs in one very dodgy basket.
Wales faces a situation not unlike that of the 19th Century, where our natural resources such as coal were plundered for profit, leaving our communities with slag heaps and ill health. Multinational companies are profiting from large-scale energy developments while local communities are not seeing any of the benefits.
The contrast with the renewable industry in Germany could not be clearer - half the 53,000 renewable power schemes there are community owned and enjoy widespread popular support. By contrast, resentment in Wales is growing because of the perception that we are not seeing any benefits.
It's clear the UK Government is being led by its friends in big business and the City, who see the chance to make a quick buck regardless of the long-term impact on Welsh communities and countryside. Their interests are not those of the people of Wales. Plaid Cymru stands with the communities affected by this change of policy and will work to develop the abundant sources of renewable energy that exist in Wales.