Oil and gas company applies for permit to drill borehole close to Bridgend (South Wales, U.K.)
The company behind a series of applications to test drill for gas in South Wales has applied for a permit to start work on land in a village near to where scenes for the epic adventure drama film Lawrence of Arabia were filmed.
Bridgend-based Coastal Oil and Gas has applied to Natural Resources Wales for an environmental permit to drill a borehole at a site off Tyla Lane, Merthyr Mawr, Bridgend.
The proposed site is 800 metres from the village and 1.7 kilometres from the Merthyr Mawr dunes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest where parts of the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O’Toole, were filmed.
Planning permission for the scheme was granted by Bridgend County Borough Council in December last year and gives the company up to five years to begin the test drill.
However, before any work can begin, the company will need an environmental permit.
The Vale of Glamorgan council, which unsuccessfully opposed an application by the company to test drill at the Llandow Industrial Estate, has been asked for its “observations” on the application for an environmental permit on the Merthyr Mawr site.
The Vale council’s refusal of the Llandow application, which was based around concerns that it could lead to a “fracking” operation, was overturned following a public inquiry.
The council was ordered to pay the company’s costs of £40,000.
Work has yet to begin on drilling at Llandow for which a similar environmental permit will be required.
The Merthyr Mawr scheme involves drilling an exploratory borehole for “unconventional oil and gas” to a depth of approximately 1,500m.
Drilling operations would last for about eight weeks. Both the company and Natural Resources Wales have stressed that “there will be no hydraulic fracturing (fracking) as part of this operation.”
In their letter to the Vale council, Natural Resources Wales says: “Any application for an environmental permit will assess the impact of the proposed activity on the environment and local community.”
Andy Chyba, of the Vale Says No campaign group, said they continued to be opposed to test drilling operations.
He continued: “We have come to realise after Llandow that there is no realistic grounds for getting test drilling stopped. But when we get to the stage of fracking, then there are genuine grounds for refusing such an application.”
Reiterating that no fracking was involved, Gerwyn Williams, head of Coastal Oil and Gas, said: “This application for a permit is part of the environmental process which we have to follow.”
The Welsh Government has said that any application to a local authority for a fracking operation would have to be referred to it.
The original planning application at Merthyr Mawr was opposed by 29 residents and members of the Broadlands Residents’ Association.
They said fracking was “dangerous and unwarranted and can result in a range of environmental concerns including landslides, subsidence and minor earthquakes and effect on ecology. This activity is banned in several countries.”
They also raised concerns about noise and the impact the operation could have on the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes.
Planners pointed out that while there were concerns about fracking, the application did not involve the controversial gas extraction technique and therefore objections on that ground would be invalid.
Coastal Oil and Gas has permission to test drill at three sites in the Vale of Glamorgan. They are Five Mile Lane, Dyffryn; Llandow Trading Estate, Cowbridge; and Llancarfan.
In Bridgend, the company has permission to test drill at Merthyr Mawr and Cwmcedfyw Farm, Pontrhydycyff.0