COUNCILLORS last night rejected plans to drill a borehole for gas in a decision that could have national implications for the fracking industry.
Environmental campaigners who turned up in large numbers at the meeting hailed the move by Wrexham Council’s planning committee as having the potential to become a landmark victory.
Councillors voted against the drilling of a borehole as part of gas exploration on land at Borras Road, Commonwood.
Among the issues raised were geological concerns over pockets of deep-seated gas and the potential effect on the area’s drinking water supply.
Speaking about the committee’s decision after the meeting Marc Jones, one the leading campaigners fighting the plans, said: “It is a great result. Congratulations to the councillors. This can be a landmark victory.”
Among those speaking against the proposals was Cllr Andrew Bailey. In outlining reasons for rejecting the bid he talked about “the potential effect on the water table...possibly the water we drink...human health”.
Cllr David Kelly talked about the presence of gas pockets and said: “Being so close to the Gresford fault, without a very accurate geographical survey I have got concerns about going to that depth in that area.
“We are drilling into the unknown.”
A number of councillors said the plans for the borehole could be a precursor to fracking taking place at the site.
Cllr Ronnie Prince raised the question about whether fracking could be “this generation’s asbestos”.
“There are a lot of people getting aboard. I just couldn’t support this,” said Cllr Prince.
Council officer David Williams repeatedly stressed the proposal had to be considered on its own merits.
Mr Williams said the plans were not about fracking but were about drilling a borehole. The recommendation was to grant permission.
The application had been deferred from the previous planning meeting to allow inquiries about the implications of the proposed borehole on the Gresford Colliery mine.
Information subsequently supplied by the Coal Authority said the proposal was more than a kilometre from the nearest point of the abandoned mine workings and was highly unlikely to have an impact.
The application would have involved 24-hour operations to remove a core of coal for sampling.
The drilling operation would have taken about 60 days, up to a maximum of 75 days.