Gasification meeting sparks public talks call

People living in the rural area which could be affected by underground coal gasification must be fully consulted and informed during the application and planning process.

This is the view of two Warwickshire County Councillors in response to a meeting held between officers and councillors of the authority and Cluff Natural Resources last week.

Green Party member and Leamington Brunswick ward councillor Jonathon Chilvers attended the meeting and said he was “bound by confidentiality” as to what was discussed.

But he said that he and others are concerned about the use of the “unproven technology “ and that there had been issues in other parts of the world where it has been tried and tested.

He added: “There is a need for those involved to local people before any decisions are made.

“Locally people are very concerned and we need to talk through each stage of the process.”

UCG involves drilling deep to find underground coal, setting fire to the resource and extracting the resultant gas.

Cluff made its application to the Coal Authority last May for a license to carry out (UCG) under the area including Princethorpe, Bubbenhall and Long Itchington.

This would require approval by The Coal Authority, the county council’s planning department and the Environment Agency.

Labour councillor Matt Western, who is sitting on the panel which will make the final decision on the application, said: “We need to be sure we have an open and informed debate about this significant new technology.

“There is a concern among the local population and we need to get to consultation very quickly - my understanding is it will be the summer and I’m keen to see a throrough and robust process put in place.

“I’m very interested to hear the views of the public if they want to get in touch with me -

“We owe it to everyone to make sure we make the right decision on this.”