Residents concerned over gas plans

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Hilbre on the Wirral © Dweller88/Flickr

Hilbre on the Wirral © Dweller88/Flickr

Over 100 residents attended a meeting to voice their concerns over the proposal to begin the process of underground coal gasification (UCG) in West Wirral.

The meeting, organised by Margaret Greenwood, who is the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Wirral West, was a chance for local people to discuss the proposed plans for the UCG licence.

Cluff Natural Resources were granted the licence, which covers more than 6,900 hectares along the Dee Estuary, by The Coal Authority in January last year but have so far not approached Wirral Council with any plans to start building the plant. The company has until 2018 to come up with a business plan and gain planning rights.

UCG involves digging to deep underground coal reserves and igniting the coal to release gas, which is then used to provide energy. Residents are worried that the process could have harmful consequences for the area, including the popular tourist destination and nature reserve Hilbre Island.

Ms Greenwood said: “The members of public we spoke with were very concerned indeed, this is clearly an important issue for local people. There are such a lot of implications of what is proposed; it’s very important to start some sort of public debate. We want to spread the word as much as we can but I want to avoid scaremongering.”

One resident at the meeting said: “This should be a complete non-starter, Wirral Council should make a strong point and say: ‘we don’t want this.’ Send a very clear message to Cluff that we don’t want them.”

Cluff Natural Resources say that UCG is a clean and safe process and will help to bring jobs to the area.

About Claire Reid, JMU Journalism