THE three test drilling applications at Bonvilston/Llantrithyd, Dyffryn and Llandow are all misleading in stating they cover “conventional gas”. Yet it’s clearly “unconventional gas”.

The company’s “supporting Information” on the Vale Planning site shows they plan to test-drill for both coal-bed methane and shale gas. Both are termed “unconventional gas” sources, which require high pressure fluid to be injected to force out the natural gas (methane). As the document says “technological advances mean it could be economically viable to extract methane from these sources”.

The “technological advances” of course mean extraction via high pressure fluid injection, whereby the rocks are fractured (‘fracking’).

The proposed test-drilling itself would not fracture the coal-seams and rock strata, but fluid would be pumped down at moderate pressure and the gas driven off measured. If this is successful, we read in the Llantrithyd documents, a plan for gas extraction will follow.

Since the Minerals Planning Policy Wales is different for “unconventional gas” and conventional gas-field gas that emerges under its own pressure, let’s see our Councillors telling the Vale Planners to reject the false description and return all three drilling applications.

They should also tell their Planning Officers that ‘unconventional’ gas can have novel impacts, eg via pollutants and radioactivity in the pumped fluids, so requires a higher degree of information on possible environmental harm. So the planners should say the scanty detail in the Coastal Oil & Gas applications is unacceptable.

Max Wallis Barry & Vale Friends of the Earth Robert Street Barry