Wales politics

Fracking still opposed in Wales, ministers tell councils

Activists at an anti-fracking camp near Blackpool Image copyright PA
Image caption The issue of fracking has prompted protests in England and Wales

Fracking for shale gas in Wales should still be opposed despite plans to fast-track such schemes in England, the Welsh government has said.

The UK government has announced measures to speed up development.

Natural Resources Minister Carl Sargeant has written to councils reminding them of the temporary ban on fracking in Wales.

He said fracking technology was "unproven", saying Welsh ministers preferred to look at renewable energy.

Protests

Fracking is a process of using high pressure water to break up rocks deep underground to release gas and pipe it to the surface.

It is a major industry in the United States, but there are concerns about safety, the environment and underground water.

There have been protests against applications for test drilling for gas in both the Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham, as well as sites in England.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has stressed the UK government's support for fracking, and frustration at delays in its development.

She has told councils in England to make decisions on applications within 16 weeks, to stop the process being "dragged out for months".

In his letter to Welsh councils, Mr Sargeant said the new guidance only applied to England and that the moratorium in Wales remained in place.

"The UK government's general support for oil and gas applications is contrary to the approach of the Welsh Government of promoting renewable and low carbon forms of energy through the planning system and other measures," he said.

"We still see renewable energy as a key element in ensuring that Wales achieves sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.

"Local planning authorities must ensure that planning applications for renewable energy projects are determined within statutory timescales."

Plans to devolve control over fracking were confirmed in the Queen's Speech in June following the Conservatives' general election victory.

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