After Nia Griffith, who was chairing the meeting had welcomed everyone, she invited Hugh Towns, a senior planning officer with Carmarthenshire County Council to explain how the planning process would work. He stressed that as yet no planning application had been received, and then he outlined how any potential application would be dealt with – explaining the legislation that would have to be complied with and answered questions, including about the involvement of Swansea City Council and the possible call-in of the application by the Welsh Assembly Planning Inspectorate.
A presentation on underground coal gasification was then given by Tony Lodge, Keith Leighfield and Dr Michael Green, representatives of Cluff Natural Resources, the company which has obtained the licences from the Coal Authority for exploration in the Loughor Estuary. This was followed by a presentation by Keith Ross of Safe Energy and Frack Free Wales voicing concerns about the process.
During the question and answer session which followed, resdients asked questions on the impact on the environment , cockles and fishing industry, fears about subsidence, leakage and pollution, jobs, visual impact and what installations were planned for on-shore and where these might be located.
Commenting on the meeting, Nia Griffith said
“Residents got the feeling that this was a very new thing – with no precedent for under-sea underground coal gasification, and some said they would like to see what happens elsewhere where exploration is taking place such as the Firth of Forth or the North Sea. People also thought that there would be more detail about what would be happening to the gas once it was brought ashore, but we had no detail about where that might be and what installations might be proposed – Dr Green simply told us that it is economic to pipe it up to 50km (30 miles) away – so that’s quite a radius. Clearly, if they do proceed with their exploration, we will want to know a lot more about their plans.”