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 »

    • Unless proven otherwise I argue (base on quite a lot of study) that methane is the stalking horse that is most threatening to the earth’s climate tipping points.

      Methane finding it’s way into the atmosphere from leakage, fugitive and rogue emissions have yet to be fully quantified and accounted for, to this day. The best top down measurements so far show the US shale exploits to be no better than the coal industry except when it comes to combustion at the consumer end. The contribution to atmospheric methane is substantial and worrying at 80 times the greenhouse potency of CO2 in its first 20 years (degrading over time). The US air quality and CO2 levels have benefited from the phasing out of dirty old coal-fired generated but the methane readings have yet to be factored in at the same time. Now there’s and upswing in US CO2. And guess what methane oxidises into … CO2. So there’s a double whammy. This is not new knowledge but the industry has so far managed to squirm and dodge the implications.

      There should be a moratorium on all new fracking ventures until this is fully parameterised and properly understood. Until then we’re living naively and dangerously, playing dice with the ecosystem of the planet.

      • It seems that you concentrate on the Howarth study and ignore the others that suggest methane emissions are no where near as high as his work suggests. You also seem to ignore the work of the USGS which indicates that the carbon isotopic composition of the methane in the atmosphere isn’t consistent with release of thermogenic methane. But if nothing else, the anti-frackers are excellent cherry pickers

        • We’ll see Judith. Two remote (methane) sensors on EU satellites should be calibrated in the new year that can pin-point sources. I expect the game will be up before long. Besides, nobody has credibly disproved the Howarth-Cornell and Juke studies. You only get the predictable character/credibility assassinations by the usual suspects. Its so easy to spot the shysters these days. I won’t mention any names but they usually open with attacks on their opponent’s credibility rather than respond to the topic in hand.

          Are you Mid-West or California based by the way, or on a UK night shift?

    • If any of these countries were serious about the carbon footprint they could start building plants like this and put their money to good use,two birds with one stone

  1. It’s an unavoidable truth that the Welsh government is trying to save the planet on the back of the poor. Subsidies for green projects are costing the Welsh taxpayer thousands and when the word gets round the average bloke won’t stand for it.

    I fear it’s playing into the hands of zealots like Farage, who having seen the success of Yellow Jacket movement in France is maybe planning his own movement with the same manifesto.

  2. A rational decision from Wales, following so many other countries in banning fracking.

    Quite a contrast to our own bizarre government with their hardline extractivist ideology- they are diverting overseas aid from tackling poverty in Brazil, China and India to spend on kick starting fracking for fossil fuels instead, with their chums at BP etc. set to benefit.


    I leave the last word to Greta Thunberg, 15;
    “Our leaders behave like children” https://www.dn.se/kultur-noje/greta-thunberg-speaks-in-katowice-our-leaders-behave-like-children/

        • As soon as crem hears the F word they are on one. The bigger picture of GHG emissions is lost on crem, they just want to highlight their nimby perspective…

        • Do you know what you’re saying Anon? HF refers to an extraction process. LNG is part of a transport process (which does not define how the gas has been extracted). Among extraction processes HF and Coal-bed methane must be the worst for emissions/pollutants when you consider the overall chain of processes that accompany them. LNG transport of Fracked gas would be worst of all (in total) but LNG transported from reservoir-extracted gas wouldn’t be worse that the environmental impacts of developing new shale gas fields, regardless of transport. Anyway, as Paul T pointed out there’s probably not the the gas there to be extracted for Wales.

  3. I would have more confidence in this supposed moral stand if the Welsh Govt committed to closing Milford Haven and banning all fossil fuel imports. Otherwise its just vacuous virtue signalling.

  4. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/05/funding-nemo-600m-power-cable-connects-uk-and-belgium

    Intersting article. Interconnectors required as countries become more dependable on intermittent renewables and France reduces nuclear capacity. Great to export surplus wind on very windy days if there is a market. Not so great when high pressure over Europe at night and several countries need to import at the same time. I’m sure this has all been well thought out…. UK imports French nuclear on still days, if that has gone what replaces it?

    • I thought the subject was energy and how Wales is not developing something they probably don’t’t have and how they are going to supply their consumers going forward. And what a bunch of hypochrites they are…

      • So the English governance who say yes to climate mitigation but support shale are not also a ‘bunch of hypocrites’?

      • Not developing something they don’t have sounds very reasonable to me … a gift to politicians who want to tick as many Green boxes as possible for the least effort. Not the same thing as hypocrisy.

        • This must be the perfect time for Swansea to push on with their crazy £1.3 Billion very little power generation tidal lagoon… Oh hold on a minute Swansea Council have invested £73,795,645.00 in foreign Fracking operations. But Wales are against Fracking. Errr, sorry I’m confused now…

          • I can certainly agree with your last sentence. Strange … on the one hand you seem to treat Friends of the Earth data gathering and methodologies as 100% accurate (something I’d never think of you doing) and on the other hand you read and interpret their stats incorrectly.

  5. Having read the document, and never mind the fine words, what they are doing appears to be greenwash. To suggest that this is a leap forward is wrong.
    Their statement goes on to almost repeat that of Ms Perry where, for example, as long as it can be demonstrated that fracked gas is better than what we have at present for the environment then it will go through.
    Their exact words are ” When proposing the extraction of on-shore oil and gas, robust and credible evidence will need to be provided to the effect that proposals conform to the energy hierarchy, including how they make a necessary contribution towards decarbonising the energy system”.
    So, they can argue that it will help decarbonise, as it will avoid expensive and more polluting imported gas or help to remove the last big polluter (Drax) etc, etc.
    To make it clear, the Welsh Govt needs to state a date (2025 would be good) when all of Wales will be zero carbon (not carbon neutral), then it would mean something

    • And, of course, Bill, there is no reason why gas can not be decarbonised. Indeed, I understand a sizeable scheme to do exactly that is being proposed for N.East England.

      Bit of oil/gas extracted in Wales might shut down their ability to at the centre of UK seismic activity. Seems to have worked in the Weald. LOL

      Meanwhile-Corinne Le Quere, the lead researcher and professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, said that the boom in wind and solar power was NOT keeping pace with growing demand from fossil fuels.
      Efforts by some countries, including the UK, to cut consumption of coal were cancelled out by increases elsewhere, with overall coal use growing, and on course to exceed its 2013 peak. The use of oil is growing in most parts of the world and so is gas.

      Virtue signalling without effect. If UK could move to decarbonised gas and oil and then export that technology much more beneficial. How to do that? Gain the tax revenue from UK oil and gas production and invest in that technology and fusion.

  6. People going crazy about O2 data signal down for the day. Can you imagine if the U.Ks lights went out for 5 minutes!

    It highlights how people’s lives and businesses rely on technology powered by electricity, a real top news story wake up call…


    At least it keeps people like Sher quiet living in their wood shack…

    Ian R Crane will have to scribble on his notepad about the latest conspiracy theory about this unless he has had a land line connected to his big white plastic caravan…

    • And you would have soooo much time on your hands to post here; hang on – you won’t be able to, no power; just me then……

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