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Sargeant issues direction on underground coal gasification projects

Words: Roger Milne
Carl Sargeant | National Assembly for Wales

Welsh planning and natural resources minister Carl Sargeant has announced that the Welsh government’s precautionary approach to the development of unconventional oil and gas resources will be extended to underground coal gasification (UCG).

He has issued a notification direction which means that any applications for development connected to the gasification of coal that are not going to be refused by a local planning authority would have to be referred to ministers.

Sargeant’s decision to issue the Town and Country Planning (Notification) (Underground Coal Gasification) (Wales) Direction 2016 is in line with the 2015 Direction. This stops local planning authorities approving developments involving the onshore exploration of shale oil or gas using unconventional extraction techniques.

The minister said: “I have issued it [the direction] in order to avoid any ambiguity and to ensure our precautionary approach extends to UCG.

“This new direction will apply to any relevant application for planning permission registered as valid on or after 25 March 2016.”

Last year Cluff Natural Resources said it was putting on ice proposals for an UCG project mooted for the Point of Ayr in the Dee Estuary.

Image credit | National Assembly for Wales