CONTROVERSIAL plans to extract energy from under Warwickshire’s countryside appear to have been scrapped.
London-based Cluff Natural Resources had applied for a conditional licence for Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) across a vast area from Bubbenhall through Princethorpe and Marton towards Long Itchington.
But with a decision still pending, it has emerged the company has written to Warwickshire County Council stating it would not proceed with the scheme, even if granted permission to examine the site’s suitability. As we went to press the company was unavailable for comment.
The news has been met with caution by No UCG Warks, the campaign group set up to fight the plan.
Spokesman Gareth Herd said: “This is of course potentially great news for Warwickshire but we would prefer to hear that Cluff are withdrawing from UCG entirely.
“If Cluff’s claims are genuine, then a request to the Coal Authority to withdraw the application or make his intent clear to them would seem the reasonable thing to do.”
UCG works by igniting coal in the ground by using similar drilling techniques to those involved in fracking, reaching huge amounts of previously inaccessible coal. Resultant gases are collected and burnt to produce energy.
Since Cluff made its initial application in May 2013, fears surrounding environmental hazards including large carbon emissions, groundwater contamination and ground subsidence have arisen.
Mr Herd added: “The implications for both the environment, climate change and those who will be afflicted are enormous.
“We plan to focus now towards ensuring that Warwickshire County Council has a robust and sound minerals planning policy that can protect our local environment from these kind of threats in the future.
“Obviously the coal beneath our feet is of interest to other companies with ambitions similar to Cluff so we must be on our guard for future applications for both this and other areas of the county.”
Warwickshire County Council confirmed it had told Cluff it was not interested in UCG before receiving the letter earlier this month.
Leader of the council, coun Izzi Seccombe, said: “In the long-term, Warwickshire’s position on UCG is that the technology remains largely untested, controversial and there is no clear indication of the financial and environmental impact that such an initiative could have on the county.”