The Welsh government restated its commitment today to moving away from fossil fuel extraction and consumption.
In a revised version of the country’s planning policy, the Welsh government said:
“The continued extraction of fossil fuels will hinder progress towards achieving overall commitments to tackling climate change.”
In Planning Policy Wales, the government said it was committed to reducing reliance on energy generated from fossil fuels:
“The Welsh Government has set challenging targets for decarbonisation and increased renewable energy generation.
“The continued extraction of all fossil fuels, including shale gas, coalbed methane and underground coal gasification, are not compatible with those targets.
“The Welsh Government’s policy objective is therefore to avoid the continued extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.”
The document said companies proposing extraction of onshore oil and gas in Wales would need to provide “robust and credible evidence” of how it would contribute to decarbonising the energy system.
The planning system should take precautionary action to prevent Wales being ‘locked in’ to further fossil fuel extraction and high carbon development, the document added
Several historic onshore oil and gas licences have been issued in Wales, mainly in the south-east and along the border with Cheshire.
But the document says “no significant oil and gas production has been undertaken”.
The Welsh government assumed responsibility for onshore oil and gas licensing on 1 October 2018. In July 2018, the Welsh government said its preferred policy was not to support applications for fracking or to undertake any new petroleum licensing in Wales.
Today’s document restated the Notification Direction, which means local authorities cannot approve planning applications for unconventional oil and gas, including fracking, without Welsh Ministers’ approval.
Haf Elgar, Director of Friends of the Earth Cymru described the publication of today’s document as an “historic moment for Wales” and continued:
“As David Attenborough told world leaders at the UN climate change talks this week, climate change is our greatest threat, and time is running out. This new policy is a positive sign that the Welsh Government is taking this threat seriously.
“A fossil free future is the only future for Wales – and the rest of the planet. People in Wales are proud that their country is taking the lead, and hope that other countries follow our example. The whole world must embrace a positive future of renewable energy and sustainable development to build a cleaner, safer future for us all.”
Tony Bosworth, fossil-free campaigner at Friends of the Earth, called for the Westminster Government to follow Wales’ lead:
“The Westminster Government needs to accept that fossil fuel extraction is incompatible with fighting climate change. Instead it is pushing fracking, refusing to call time on coal, and bogging down new wind energy projects with harsh planning rules.
“It’s time to consign coal to the history books and to end fracking. The government must prioritise renewable energy and helping people make their homes more energy efficient.”