Shropshire methane test drilling plan submitted

An energy company has submitted plans to test drill for coal bed methane near Ellesmere, Shropshire.

Dart Energy has applied to Shropshire Council for permission to dig one exploratory borehole and the associated infrastructure on farmland in Dudleston.

The temporary borehole will be used to analyse the coal structure and check if it is appropriate for gas extraction.

Local campaigners have opposed the plans.

Shropshire Wildlife Trust also said it had "deep concerns" about the project.

It said it was worried that the process could lead to the possible contamination of the local water supply.

Dart Energy said a steel pipe would be inserted into the borehole and cemented in place as a barrier to stop water being affected.

The wildlife trust had originally been concerned the work would take place on land designated as a special area of conservation but Dart Energy said this is not the case.

Coal bed methane involves drilling down to a coal seam and then removing water to stimulate the flow of methane as a source of energy.

Dart Energy was granted planning permission to create a test borehole at the site in 2010, but it expired last year.

The latest plans include drilling a 830m-deep (2,720ft) borehole at the site. If approved by the council, it would remain for a maximum of two months, after which it would be sealed.

If tests are successful, it could lead to full-scale extraction, although that would require separate permission.

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