Fracking should not be carried out in Wales until its safety is proven, the Welsh Government is expected announce in a move that will delight campaigners.
A Plaid Cymru debate on Wednesday afternoon will call for ministers to do all they can to block the method of unconventional shale gas extraction, and the Welsh Government has confirmed it will support the opposition party’s motion.
Proposals for the use of fracking in Wales have been met with high levels of opposition, as they have across the UK, amid fears of significant environmental impacts.
Wednesday’s debate comes after Scotland also announced a moratorium on fracking – meaning that two UK constituent nations have now signalled their opposition to unconventional gas and oil extraction.
The move has been welcomed by Gareth Clubb, director of Friends of the Earth Cymru.
He said: “We’re delighted by the prospect that the Welsh Government looks to support this stance.
“We look forward to the Welsh Government using all the powers it currently has under planning and environmental permitting to make sure that unconventional gas extraction does not take place in Wales.”
The Plaid Cymru motion calls for energy to be fully devolved to the National Assembly for Wales, that Wales should have the power to block fracking.
It adds: “Calls on the Welsh Government to do everything within its power to prevent fracking from taking place in Wales until it is proven to be safe in both an environmental and public health context.”
Plaid’s Llyr Gruffyd, North Wales AM, said: “It’s a historic day. This is a clear statement from the National Assembly for Wales that we want a frack-free Wales.”
He said powers over licensing, which are being proposed for Scotland in Smith, are widely expected in Stephen Crabb’s St David’s Day statement on further devolution.
But he suggested that if the powers aren’t devolved, the Welsh Government should use the ones it has such as planning.
The Tories are also supporting a moratorium – but with the right to opt-in for communities if they want it.
Antoinette Sandbach said: “It is clear that shale gas exploitation has a contribution to make to a long-term economic plan for Wales’ energy generation, but until its impact on our environment and homes is properly assessed, we need a moratorium.
“The views of the local people likely to benefit from fracking, or who will be affected by fracking must be paramount and a moratorium with community right to opt-in to support fracking will empower people.
“A moratorium until 2021 gives sufficient time for far more research into the implications of fracking for parts of rural Wales and will allow informed decisions to be taken.”