Wales politics

Fracking powers would be devolved by Labour

Fracking workers looking at drill Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fracking involves using a high-pressure water mixture to penetrate rock in order to release gas

Powers over fracking would be devolved to Wales if Labour wins the general election, the party has announced.

Similar powers over the gas drilling technique are already devolved to Scotland.

A number of exploratory drilling applications have been approved in the Vale of Glamorgan and surrounding area.

However the Welsh government is changing its advice to local councils on fracking - effectively putting existing plans on hold.

Election pledge

Speaking before Labour's conference in Swansea, Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said: "It is right that decisions like these are taken close to the communities that might be affected."

Meanwhile Planning Minister Carl Sargeant said he would stop "any local planning authority approving any planning application for fracking".

Earlier in February the Welsh government voted to back a Plaid Cymru motion in the Senedd calling for an effective block on fracking.

At its Welsh conference in Swansea's Brangwyn Hall on Friday, Labour will announce plans to speak to half a million voters in Wales ahead of May's general election.

"We cannot outspend the Tories in this election but we will out organise them," a party spokesman said, claiming to have more activists than in 2010.

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

It may be Valentine's Day on Saturday, but expect plenty of blood and thunder from Labour this weekend as party members gather in Swansea.

As with any pre-election conferences, it will be the big opportunity to rally an expected turnout of 600 troops.

Behind the scenes, party officials say the Tory war on Wales - as it's called by them - has helped mobilise support from the grassroots prepared to get out and knock on doors.

That so-called war is of course based on a number of longer waiting times in the Labour-run Welsh NHS than in England.

One question is whether Labour will suffer as a result - even though health is devolved and this is a general election - or whether it can be successful in persuading people that the Conservative criticism has gone too far.

Labour has 26 of the 40 seats in Wales. It lost four at the last election and has set itself the target of winning eight this time round. Ambitious it may be - but also achievable - that's the message from the party.

Labour is aiming to win Aberconwy, Arfon, Cardiff North, Cardiff Central, the Vale of Glamorgan, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire and Preseli Pembrokeshire.

Of those, the two Cardiff seats, the Vale of Glamorgan and Aberconwy are felt by the party to be the most winnable.

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