WITH regard to the recent concerns about Underground Coal Gasification, there are some points to clarify.
It seems that a certain amount of misinformation is circulating on some important issues regarding potential dangers to Hilbre Island and the Dee Estuary.
The Hilbre Island group is not under threat and there was no “removal” of Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) status from Hilbre Island.
The Dee Estuary remains a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Ramsar Site which is a Wetland of International Importance and a candidate EU Special Area of Conservation.
Hilbre enjoys legislative protections under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations which also covers the Dee Estuary and also the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.
Given the misreporting and misinformation, I contacted the minister to seek further information. His response explains fully the decision-making process and makes it very clear that the decision not to grant MCZ status to Hilbre Island group was not influenced in any way by the previous granting of provisional licences for UCG two years ago in 2012.
I am happy to share the minister’s response with any Wirral West constituents.
As the situation stands, Cluff Natural Resources Ltd (Cluff) was awarded a conditional licence by the Coal Authority in 2012.
Conditional licences enable prospective operators to secure the rights to the coal while projects are developed but do not permit UCG operations to commence until all other rights and permissions are in place.
Any operator would have to demonstrate safety measures to obtain licences from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, from the Environment Agency and possibly the Health and Safety Executive as well as all the relevant planning permissions.
I can assure residents I have this matter firmly on my radar and will continue to monitor this matter as a priority.
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