I was the first candidate to sign the Frack-Free promise with Greenpeace and took it upon myself to push the incumbent politicians on their stance on fracking. Ian Spiller, an ex-Conservative, now Independent local councillor responded to my question:
“What is the current situation and your stance regarding fracking in Merthyr Mawr and Ogmore?”
Mr Spiller's reply:
“I don't know enough about fracking so I am staying out of it.”
If only he was in some kind of elected position where it was his duty to know something about it and be involved!
Since then, it was revealed that our beloved Merthyr Mawr has a pre-fracking application; an environmental permit at land of Tyla Lane, Merthyr Mawr, Bridgend, CF32 0LT. Naturally, should the test bore holes created test positive for natural gas then they will follow this up with hydraulic fracking. Before the General Election the Pirate Party strongly opposed fracking and we continue to advocate for a national halt to all fracking across the UK.
I appreciate that some may take no issue with shale gas extraction itself as there is the argument it can be conducted safely with the correct regulation. My argument is Wales already creates a surplus of energy so firstly we do not need to further our dependence on fossil fuels at our landscape's expense. Furthermore we are already not regulating the gas industry vigorously enough. Unburned gasses are being released into the atmosphere, causing huge damage to our ozone layer. We do not need the added pollution fracking would create from this under-regulated industry. We should not be seeking to increase our energy production at such a substantially high cost, the destruction of the beauty and sustainability of our environment.
Namely we have the Pant y Wal wind-farm and several solar farms are popping up in Bridgend. With the rate in which both Bridgend and The Vale of Glamorgan are increasing their solar farms and how wind turbines can easily double up with animals on the pasture land, even if the additional energy was needed, there are clearly less damaging and more sustainable alternatives which are already here and affordable.
Merthyr Mawr has a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the plant and insect life. It is also used by other animals. Fracking would destroy this site.
Lest we forget the direct impact on human lives: drilling is not without noise and debris. There are plenty of farms and a village close to the proposed fracking site and fracking has been shown to cause considerable damage to water sources, land, animal and plant-life in much of the world. Similar to the situation in Barton Moss, the only access route is not suitable for the HGVs needed to carry the heavy drilling equipment. There are no pedestrian walkways and limited passing spots for cars. A wagon would absolutely dominate the path and pose a significant danger to any walkers and an obstruction to other vehicles even if the road could hold the weight.
I will say this was not a decision I made being wrapped up in the Anti-Fracking protests or a rush to oppose the establishment for the sake of it. Our policy to oppose fracking is based on rational debate and the evidence above. Our decision is free from personal financial gain or knee-jerk politics. My father, a working union man, has worked in the gas industry for longer than I have been alive. I have no desire to see men such as my father out of work, which is why I say the renewable energy market can provide replacement jobs without damaging our land and water.
This iconic and unique landscape was used for scenes in the film Lawrence of Arabia and has also featured in the TV series Dr Who. Do we really want to replace that with a fracking site?
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Fracking is unnecessary and unwanted in Bridgend. Let's keep it out together!
The area which would be ruined by fracking