Regulation

Gas company drops south Wales appeal and looks for another site

LlanharanAerial

Image source: Google maps

Coastal Oil and Gas has dropped its challenge over plans to drill for unconventional gas at Llanharan in south Wales. It plans to look for another site in the area.

The company informed the Planning Inspectorate at lunchtime yesterday (30th March 2016) that it was withdrawing its appeal against the refusal of plans to explore for unconventional gas. The news comes just over a week after the appeal was validated.

Llanharan appeal letter

A message on the appeal’s website, from Oliver Taylor, of Coastal Oil and Gas, said:

“We have recently been informed that the wife of the landowner has recently passed away, we as a company do not wish to place any undue pressure on the family during this time and we feel it would be better to withdraw the planning appeal and look for an alternative site.”

Local people have welcomed the decision to withdraw the appeal.

John Davies, chair of Llanharan Against Fracking, wrote on Facebook:

“Brilliant news that Coastal Oil and Gas have withdrawn their appeal to the Planning Inspectorate for test drilling for unconventional shale gas in Llanharan. More details when we get them.”

Background

Rhondda Cynon Taff Council refused planning permission in September last year for an exploratory borehole at Hendre Farm, targeting coal bed methane and shale gas.

Councillors voted against the advice of officers who had recommended approval.

The decision notice said the scheme would have “an unacceptable effect on the interest of residential amenity, cultural heritage and landscape importance”. The site is opposite the Grade 2 listed Llanharan House and its historic park and garden. The council said the development would have “a significant adverse visual impact”.

Coastal Oil and Gas submitted an appeal, dated 4th March 2016, and full details were posted on the Planning Inspectorate’s website on 23rd March.

The appeal was lodged by Mr Taylor, a director of Coastal Oil and Gas since August  2015. We asked him for more details about the decision to withdraw. We’ll update this post with any comment we receive.

In the appeal application form, Mr Taylor challenged the council’s reasons for refusal. He said:

“Members of the planning committee had not visited the site and had no evidence as to the degree of impact that the development would cause on the setting of the Park and Garden”.

The nearest home would have been 250m from the site. But he dismissed the argument that the development would have an unacceptable impact on residents.

He said Coastal Oil and Gas had drilled six similar boreholes in South Wales without any issues and had consent to drill another ten. He added:

“The information gathered from exploration boreholes is imperative in assessing if and where gas can be extracted in a safe manner. Without such information, major local and national benefits could be lost.”

Community opposition

On the day the appeal was validated, people in Llanharan held a meeting to organise community opposition.

The meeting was attended by politicians from three parties, including two members of the National Assembly of Wales. DrillOrDrop report

PEDL 220

The Llanharan site is in the Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) area 220.

This covers the southern part of Rhondda Cynon Taf and includes Llantrisant, where Coastal Oil and Gas was granted permission for test drilling in October 2013. The company has a 50% interest in the PEDL, along with Adamo Energy (UK) Ltd.

The initial term of the licence is due to expire on 30th June 2016 Details The work programme for the PEDL (link) requires Coastal Oil and Gas to drill a well to a depth of 800m. This condition would have been met by the Llanharan scheme, which proposed to drill to 1,200m into Westphalian coal measures and Namurian shales and sandstones.


This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

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