Political clash over 'scaremongering' on future of Hilbre Islands

A POLITICAL row is raging over claims Hilbre Island could be at risk from engineering works associated with coal “gasification” off the Wirral coast.

Fears were raised after the awarding of a licence for Underground Coal Gasification operations in the Dee Estuary.

The UCG process involves igniting underground coal reserves in order to generate gas for energy use.

The permit covers 6,900 hectares of the estuary and could involve building a UCG plant off the West Kirby coast – prompting fears that damage could be caused to the environment.

Margaret Greenwood, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for West Wirral, called a public meeting on the issue in West Kirby over the weekend, attended by more than 100 people.

She said: “It is important local people are made aware of the risks involved in UCG.

“Members of the public we have spoken with were very concerned indeed.

“The Labour Party has formed an action group to find out more about the engineering process and a series of questions from the meeting will be followed up.”

But Cllr Jeff Green, chairman of the Hilbre Island nature reserve management committee, dismissed the controversy as a “scaremongering campaign.”

He offered assurance to people who he said had "been alarmed" by it.

Councillor Green, leader of Wirral Council Tory group, said Hilbre Islands are within the Dee Estuary Special Area of Conservation and Dee Estuary Special Protection Area - a network of protected sites stretching across Europe.

“They are therefore covered by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations which also covers the Dee Estuary,” he said.

“They are also protected through national legislation under Countryside and Rights of Way Act as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“It’s a bit rich for the Labour Party to feign concern for the West Wirral coastline now.

“I’m sure many will remember their ill-conceived support for ‘The Sail Project’ (a West Kirby seafront hotel scheme rejected following fierce local opposition)”.

Mrs Greenwood said the public meeting had gone “extremely well” with an attendance of more than 100.

She said: “A lot of local people want to know more about the UCG process and how they can get involved in the decision making.

“We have said we are very happy for anyone to come along to a further meeting, which will be organised within the next week or so.”

Comments (5)

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2:26pm Mon 3 Feb 14

No.9 says...

UCG is still really in its testing and development stage - especially near shore, and it's not just West Kirby residents who should be worried. If it all goes pear-shaped the whole of the Dee Estuary will be affected, and I'm sorry Jeff Green, but no amount of conservation regulations would be able to do anything about it. There's many UCG projects worldwide which have been terminated due to dangerous emissions and explosions and underground seams burning out of control. Carcinogenic chemicals and massive amounts of carbon monoxide are released which need to be processed on-site but in many trials have ended up polluting the surrounding areas. What galls me is that sub-commecial UCG in the UK is still in trial with future ambitions to export the technology to the far east, meaning we're the guinea pigs taking all the pain with no gain - not even a reduction in our energy bills.
UCG is still really in its testing and development stage - especially near shore, and it's not just West Kirby residents who should be worried. If it all goes pear-shaped the whole of the Dee Estuary will be affected, and I'm sorry Jeff Green, but no amount of conservation regulations would be able to do anything about it. There's many UCG projects worldwide which have been terminated due to dangerous emissions and explosions and underground seams burning out of control. Carcinogenic chemicals and massive amounts of carbon monoxide are released which need to be processed on-site but in many trials have ended up polluting the surrounding areas. What galls me is that sub-commecial UCG in the UK is still in trial with future ambitions to export the technology to the far east, meaning we're the guinea pigs taking all the pain with no gain - not even a reduction in our energy bills. No.9

8:01pm Mon 3 Feb 14

spamfiend says...

Taken from Wikipedia:

The estuary is a major wildlife area and is one of the most important estuaries in Britain and amongst the most important in Europe for its populations of waders and wildfowl. The Environment Agency is the Conservation Authority and it is protected or listed under several schemes:
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Special Protection Area (SPA)
Sensitive Marine Area (SMA)
Natura 2000 site
Ramsar site
Large parts of the area are within the RSPB's Dee Estuary Nature Reserve.

So the simple answer is, I don't think they will be allowed
Taken from Wikipedia: The estuary is a major wildlife area and is one of the most important estuaries in Britain and amongst the most important in Europe for its populations of waders and wildfowl. The Environment Agency is the Conservation Authority and it is protected or listed under several schemes: Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Special Protection Area (SPA) Sensitive Marine Area (SMA) Natura 2000 site Ramsar site Large parts of the area are within the RSPB's Dee Estuary Nature Reserve. So the simple answer is, I don't think they will be allowed spamfiend

8:09pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Positive thinker says...

Would it be a major issue? after all you read is that Hilbre Island is a money pit
Would it be a major issue? after all you read is that Hilbre Island is a money pit Positive thinker

1:47am Tue 4 Feb 14

radcliffejeff says...

disgraceful, West Kirby is almost beautiful, any advance on Hilbre is a disaster
disgraceful, West Kirby is almost beautiful, any advance on Hilbre is a disaster radcliffejeff

10:05pm Fri 7 Feb 14

acrostic says...

A little internet research reveals that UCG has only ever been used for full-scale production of gas at five soviet plants in the 1960s, all in remote areas. Only one, in Uzbekistan, remains operational. All other UCG programmes have been trials, and there are currently a few small scale demonstration facilities in Turkey, Hungary, South Africa and Australia. UCG has never been tested offshore, and there are apparently no plans for trials of the method in the UK before embarking on commercial production. Hardly a proven technology then.

There have been problems of ground water contamination with toxic and carcinogenic substances such as benzene and toluene at many of the trial sites. The most recent trial in Europe, at Tremedal, Spain in 1997, was ended when an explosion in the gasifier deep underground caused a blowback, rupturing the well at the surface and coating the site with a mixture of toxic coal tars and water.
In addition, subsidence is inevitable after the underground coal has been removed. The process produces large quantities of toxic water which will need to be disposed of. UCG produces much higher levels of CO2 than natural gas, adding to global warming.

Contrary to the expectations fostered by some government ministers promoting it, unconventional gas operations will not result in lower fuel prices for householders, nor in more than a handful of new jobs for local people as most of the workforce will be specialists brought in by the drilling company. Furthermore, the unconventional gas industry will be very lightly regulated and the energy companies will not be required to have any insurance to cover damage and pollution caused by their activities.

All this information is in the public domain and while I can't personally vouch for any of it I have drawn on several different sources, including a report drawn up on behalf of an Australian energy company. This is just scratching the surface. People should do their own research and decide whether they want this on their doorstep, or indeed anywhere in the world.

It would be nice to think that a development like this would not be allowed in an SSSI, a Nature Reserve, and close to densely populated areas. Unfortunately that is not the case. Unless people actively resist it, this will happen, in the Dee as elsewhere in the UK.
A little internet research reveals that UCG has only ever been used for full-scale production of gas at five soviet plants in the 1960s, all in remote areas. Only one, in Uzbekistan, remains operational. All other UCG programmes have been trials, and there are currently a few small scale demonstration facilities in Turkey, Hungary, South Africa and Australia. UCG has never been tested offshore, and there are apparently no plans for trials of the method in the UK before embarking on commercial production. Hardly a proven technology then. There have been problems of ground water contamination with toxic and carcinogenic substances such as benzene and toluene at many of the trial sites. The most recent trial in Europe, at Tremedal, Spain in 1997, was ended when an explosion in the gasifier deep underground caused a blowback, rupturing the well at the surface and coating the site with a mixture of toxic coal tars and water. In addition, subsidence is inevitable after the underground coal has been removed. The process produces large quantities of toxic water which will need to be disposed of. UCG produces much higher levels of CO2 than natural gas, adding to global warming. Contrary to the expectations fostered by some government ministers promoting it, unconventional gas operations will not result in lower fuel prices for householders, nor in more than a handful of new jobs for local people as most of the workforce will be specialists brought in by the drilling company. Furthermore, the unconventional gas industry will be very lightly regulated and the energy companies will not be required to have any insurance to cover damage and pollution caused by their activities. All this information is in the public domain and while I can't personally vouch for any of it I have drawn on several different sources, including a report drawn up on behalf of an Australian energy company. This is just scratching the surface. People should do their own research and decide whether they want this on their doorstep, or indeed anywhere in the world. It would be nice to think that a development like this would not be allowed in an SSSI, a Nature Reserve, and close to densely populated areas. Unfortunately that is not the case. Unless people actively resist it, this will happen, in the Dee as elsewhere in the UK. acrostic

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