Wales Natural Resources Minister, Carl Sargeant, has extended his moratorium on unconventional gas and oil developments to underground coal gasification.
Mr Sargeant (left) issued a notification decision yesterday (25th March 2016). This means any application for coal gasification would be referred to Welsh ministers if the local planning authority did not propose to refuse it.
In February 2015, he issued a similar direction to planning authorities preventing them from approving unconventional techniques for the onshore exploration and production of shale gas and oil.
Mr Sargeant said:
“The direction has been issued to require that any planning application connected to the gasification of coal must be referred to Welsh Ministers where local planning authorities are minded to approve them. I have issued it in order to avoid any ambiguity and to ensure our precautionary approach extends to UCG.”
Frack Free Wales told The Daily Post the announcement did not mean that the threat of UCG was over in Wales. A spokesman for the group said:
“Westminster has issued 27 UCG licences across Wales, England and Scotland. The Welsh UCG licences were granted several years ago – each seeking to burn millions of tonnes of coal under the sea.”
“If it wasn’t for the tireless campaigning of community groups, this new industry would be proceeding unobstructed.”
The new direction applies to any application registered as valid on or after 25th March 2016.
The control of onshore and gas licences is to be devolved to Wales but arrangements have not yet been finalised. No licences were issued in Wales or Scotland under the 14th Round, confirmed by the UK Oil and Gas Authority in December 2015.