THOUSANDS of homes in Denbighshire could be open to fracking after the UK Government’s decision to extend licences.
Rhyl, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, Bodelwyddan and St Asaph could all be affected after the extension of licensing for hydraulic fracturing – fracking – for shale gas and coal bed methane – a move that is expected to affect about two-thirds of Welsh households.
The licences provide the first step to starting drilling – but do not give absolute agreement to drill.
On top of a licence, any further drilling application will then require planning permission, as well as permits from the Environment Agency and sign-off from the Health and Safety Executive.
Rhyl councillor Brian Blakeley, chair of Denbighshire County Council, said: “I am totally against fracking.
"I think our generation has done enough to damage the environment and it is now time to really think what sort of environment we are going to leave our grandchildren.
“If this issue does come to a vote, I will have no hesitation voting against it and I will be lobbying my fellow councillors to do the same.”
AM Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru shadow minister for the environment, energy and rural affairs, said: “The new areas affected by David Cameron’s announcement include Rhyl, Prestatyn, Bodelwyddan, Rhuddlan and St Asaph which will allow fracking under our homes.
“This means that gas wells could be developed within a few hundred metres of people’s homes and, unbeknown to householders, drilling takes place directly under their homes."
Developing a new carbon intensive source of energy is bad news for climate change. It also means wasting millions of gallons of water in a process that has the potential to contaminate underground water supplies, cause gas leakages and minor earthquakes.”
Matthew Hancock, Business and Energy Minister said: “Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth.
“We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy."
As one of the cleanest fossil fuels, shale gas can be a key part of the UK’s answer to climate change and a bridge to a much greener future.”
This latest expression of interest, which was opened on Monday, July 28, is set to cover 60 per cent of the UK, and planning permission may be granted in some National Parks and areas of natural beauty providing it is demonstrated to be in the public interest.
Chris Ruane, MP for the Vale of Clwyd, said: “The science and safety of fracking still needs to be proven in the UK.
“Fracking should not going ahead if it has an adverse effect on the environment and even then the contribution of locations like the Vale of Clwyd to providing the energy needs of the country needs to be taken into account.
“I have pursued this issue in the House of Commons over the past few years in Parliament and I will be watching this situation carefully on how it impacts on the Vale of Clwyd.”
Areas of Denbighshire are already contributing significantly to the supply of gas and wind power across the coast, and further afield the area also has onshore wind farms as well as nuclear, hydro-electric power and solar energy stations.
The news of the planned extension has been met with anger by residents and councillors, and any proposed drilling is sure to come under fierce opposition from people who will be affected.