North East Wales

Wrexham public meeting over gas test drilling plan

Anti-fracking banner
Image caption Fracking has attracted protests at various sites around the UK

An anti-fracking group is holding a public meeting after a multinational company announced it was to test drill for methane gas in Wrexham.

GP Energy has submitted a planning application to explore underneath land near Commonwood Farm, Borras.

The company insists it is just exploratory drilling and has no plans for fracking - a controversial method of extracting gas from rock.

But North East Wales Against Fracking Action said local people were worried.

The plans by GP Energy to test drill a borehole to explore for coal bed methane underground will be considered by Wrexham council.

The site is two miles from the River Dee and opponents fear that the test drilling could eventually lead to hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

Resident Luke Ashley, spokesperson for the newly-launched action group, said the drilling could be "just the start of what could be the industrialisation of the countryside to the east of Wrexham".

"The test bore is to assess how much gas is present in the coal seams that stretch from Point of Ayr in Flintshire all the way down through Wrexham and into Cheshire and Shropshire," he said.

"If full-blown extraction of coal bed methane follows it could involve pumping thousands of litres of water and chemicals into the ground to force out the gas.

"We are incredibly concerned that this could leak into drinking water supplies in the nearby River Dee."

He added that the group would be lobbying councillors before the plans were discussed by the council's planning committee, possibly later this year.

A public meeting was taking place on Tuesday evening.

'Safe if monitored'

Fracking is a technique where water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

It was temporarily banned in the UK after it was blamed for two earth tremors in Blackpool in 2011.

Opponents claim water used in the fracking process will be contaminated and could enter domestic supplies.

But a UK government review has now concluded fracking is safe if adequately monitored.

Dart Energy, which owns GP Energy, last week told the Wrexham Leader that it had no plans for fracking in the Wrexham area and said the well at the drilling site would be cemented over once exploration had taken place.

A company spokesman told the newspaper: "Dart Energy can confirm the planning application is for the drilling of a coal bed methane exploration well which is temporary in nature and will be fully cemented upon completion of the operation.

"The purpose of the well is to extract a core (sample) from the coal seam in order to test the methane content in a laboratory.

"As with similar wells in the past, Dart Energy has no plans to frack this well and is not seeking permission to frack the well from either the local authority or the Environment Agency."

Wrexham council said the application would be considered by the planning committee in due course.

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