Public inquiry over gas drilling in Vale of Glamorgan

Shale gas drilling Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Up to £70bn worth of shale gas reserves may lie in the rocks below south Wales, research suggests

The Welsh government is to hold a public inquiry into test drilling for gas in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Vale council rejected an application by Bridgend-based Coastal Oil and Gas to carry out exploratory drilling for shale gas at Llandow.

The company appealed to the Welsh government against the decision and the inquiry is due to be held on 23 May.

Residents also have until 14 February to register objections to the proposal with the Planning Inspectorate.

Local people have voiced fears that the exploratory drilling could be followed by fractional drilling or fracking as it is known, which involves the high-pressure fracturing of rocks such as shale with a mix of water, sand and chemicals.

Opponents in the UK and the United States, where it is widespread, say it can cause environmental pollution and sickness in local populations.

Drilling site

However, the applicant, Gerwyn Williams, has said the drilling would be for conventional gas, not shale gas.

An original application by the company was withdrawn after a home was found to be near the proposed drilling site.

Campaigners found a reference to shale gas in that application and started campaigning against the proposal.

The inquiry will be held at Vale of Glamorgan council's Barry offices. A spokesman said the appeal related to an application for an exploratory borehole.

Coastal Oil and Gas was last year granted planning permission to dig a borehole to test for gas below farmland in Kent in what has been described as a similar scheme.

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