This morning 29th July the following news reached this group, which we have confirmed as being accurate.
The leader of Warwickshire County Council Cllr. Izzi Seccombe has received a communication from Cluff Natural Resources stating that they intend to allow their conditional UCG licence application to lapse as they search for more suitable areas to conduct UCG.
This was confirmed by the office of Jim Graham at WCC.
At this stage this does not mean that the licence may not be issued, however it is reasonable to assume that in line with The Coal Authority's own policy on licencing and in particular to onshore applications (Warwickshire being the only such application) that The Coal Authority should refuse the application. Their own licencing policy clearly states that onshore UCG licences will normally only be granted if the developer can demonstrate that the project has a reasonable chance of success and of obtaining planning consent.
We have contacted The Coal Authority pointing this out and would expect them to follow their own policy and deny the application.
This is of course potentially great news for Warwickshire. We would prefer to hear that CNR are withdrawing from UCG entirely. Many areas of the nation are still under threat from this insidious technology and the 14th round of licencing by the government for other unconventional gas developments threatens on a large scale huge areas of the country. The implications for both the environment, climate change and those who will be directly afflicted are enormous.
We plan to focus now towards ensuring that locally WCC has a robust and sound Minerals Planning policy that can protect our local environment from these kind of threats in the future. We continue to network and stand alongside other communities around the country that face similar threats.
Obviously the coal beneath our feet is of interest to other companies with ambitions similar to Cluff Natural Resources so we must be on our guard for future applications for both this and other areas of the County.
To confirm, our interpretation of Cluff's intent is the following:
Should the licence be granted by The Coal Authority, then Cluff claims that they do NOT intend to develop it and to allow it to lapse out of time. Conditional UCG licences are valid for 4-6 years.
However, that does not mean he can not change his mind in future, perhaps under a different regime at the council after the forthcoming election SHOULD he win the licence.
Considering The Coal Authorities licencing policy it would seem unreasonable for them to now grant the licence in light of Cluff's claims to the leader of WCC. I.E. he has not shown a clear intent or commitment to develop or progress the licence should it be awarded.
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. The current situation does not mean that UCG by CNR will not happen in Warwickshire.
We will be watching The Coal Authority for their reaction, we would fully expect them to now deny the application in progress. We strongly recommend that you seek comment from The Coal Authority on their position.
The Coal Authority and DECC currently have a working group investigating UCG regulations and licencing policy. When this work is completed we can expect amendments to the current policy. This may explain the large delay in making a decision on their part for this application while this work is still being carried out.
We receive many emails from concerned residents who are either considering moving out of or into the proposed zone and are looking for the latest information to make decisions. This is a source of uncertainty and anxiety. Particularly in regard to property values. The Coal Authority should therefore clarify the position by refusing this application as soon as possible. This should not be a source of uncertainty for the next 4-6 years.
Our current petition at http://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/NoUCGWarks is still valid so please do share and sign. In addition Councillor Bally Singh of Coventry has launched a petition to compliment at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/warwickshire-county-council-say-no-to-proposals-for-toxic-coal-gas-extraction-in-warwickshire .
In all probability the petition's will combine as attention turns fully towards Warwickshire County Council and the new Minerals Planning Policy to have in place a robust policy that can ensure protection from these kind of threats in future. Please do support and share these important petitions.