Shale gas “not compatible with decarbonisation targets” – Welsh planning policy

south wales licences OGA

Onshore oil and gas exploration licences in south Wales. Map: UK Onshore Geophysical Library

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.”

181204 Planning Policy WalesIn 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.

“Historic moment”

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.”


79 replies »

  1. Well done Wales. It’s a shame the UK government doesn’t take the issue of climate change as seriously as this (or take it seriously at all …). And another nail in the coffin for fracking in the UK.

  2. As they have never had any significant (any at all?) commercial oil and gas production on or offshore this is a pretty safe bet.

    It will be interesting to see how Wales “avoids the continued consumption of fossil fuels” though.

    I expect they will also be closing down Milford Haven in the coming weeks…..


    “Milford Haven is one of the largest oil and gas ports in northern Europe with a traffic mix of crude oil carriers, refined product and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) shipping using the port to service the oil refinery Valero and the storage terminals of SemLogistics and Puma Energy. Along with a mix of other shipping traffic, including ferries, fishing and general cargo, the Port handled 37.8 million tonnes of cargo in 2015.

    Added to this mix is the extra element of LNG (liquefied natural gas) ships. Dragon LNG and South Hook LNG, commissioned in the first half of 2009, have a capacity to supply up to 30% of the UK’s gas requirements.”

    Well done Wales……

  3. Ah another basket case of a country that relies on EU handouts making yet more bad decisions, keep up the bad work folks.

    • Think someone has jumped on the political bandwagon! Wales and Scotland are going to end up costing England so much cash the English will be calling their own independence referendum. And I’m saying that as a Scotsman.

  4. Why do the ‘pros’ always trot out these tiresome lame duck arguments that conflate rejection of shale gas development with the idea that anyone who is still using fossil fuels for whatever reason must be a hypocrite if they speak out against it ? Ridiculous. I fully accept that there will ‘long tail’ regarding the gradual winding down of conventional ff supply networks along with their conventional usage. I will switch dependency in favor of greener solutions as and when these become accessible, affordable options. Diverting so much investment and resources in favor of ramping up a dirty new infrastructure to support a country-wide lattice of shale gas wells is delaying that day and forestalling England’s opportunity to become a world leader in the cleaner energy solutions.

    • So will I Philip P with the addition of” reliable”. So we do agree, “as and when these become accessible, AFFORDABLE and RELIABLE options”

      Wales doesn’t have a lot of shale prospectivity.

      But this is a classic “NIMBY” Country – have a look at Milford Haven.

      “Electricity in Wales

      Wales is part of an interconnected European electricity network, with flows into and out of the country. The country generated an estimated 38.8 TWh of electricity in 2016 and consumed approximately 16.1 TWh*. Wales is, therefore, a net exporter of electricity.

      Of the estimated 38.8 TWh of electricity that was generated in Wales in 2016, 6.9 TWh was from renewables. Electricity generation from renewables has increased rapidly in recent years, having doubled in the last five years.

      The remaining 31.9 TWh of generation was from fossil fuels. Six Combined Cycle Gas Turbines plants and one coal power station provide 95 per cent of fossil fuel electricity generation.”

      Wales produces no natural gas and it appears nearly all the coal is imported but they generated 83% of the gross electricity from fossil fuels.

    • Because when some antis drop their guard they make such interesting comments as to not wanting to get rid of their diesel until somebody else subsidises their “commitment” to a more environmentally beneficial alternative. An individual version of Scotland and Wales.

      You may feel that is perfectly acceptable, and it should be the majority who have no issue with shale gas development in UK, who pay for that as well, and you may turn off the news when Paris riots feature, but the majority live in the real world and make their own decisions-often with far more commitment than some who tell them what they should do.

      Shale gas is not delaying anything. Other technologies are being advanced, British carbon footprint is lowest since 1859.

      Maybe we just decarbonise shale gas instead of Norwegian gas, to achieve the next step forward.

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