THE Vale Council will have to pay out thousands of pounds in costs after a public inquiry decided test drilling should be allowed at Llandow.

Bridgend firm Coastal Oil and Gas successfully appealed against the Vale Council planning committee's 2011 decision to stop exploratory drilling for Shale gas on the industrial estate.

The Wales Planning Inspectorate (WPI) said the authority should pay the appellant's full costs incurred from the time the appeal was made to the close of the public inquiry (last week).

Director of Development Services at the Vale Council, Rob Thomas said: "We cannot confirm the sum involved at this stage, as this will be a matter for discussion between the appellant and the council."

Friends of the Earth Cymru (FoEC) criticised the decision to allow work to go ahead, claiming it would pave the way for high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.

Vale MP Alun Cairns said he was "dismayed" at the decision to allow test drilling.

"I and many local residents and businesses are very concerned about the effects of the exploration process for shale gas, and the potential fracking procedure for its extraction if the gas is indeed found below ground," he said.

"The Vale is a great place to live and work and I want it to remain that way. Any future gas exploration could put this at risk."

Vale-based AM, Andrew RT Davies, also expressed his disappointment.

"I have gone on record on many occasions in my opposition to fracking in the Vale," he said.

"We depend on green tourism here and it could destroy the local economy which would be disastrous."