PENARTH Plaid Cymru has warned that the town could be the latest part of the Vale to be targeted for fracking.

The political party has warned of the “chilling prospect facing our community” if UK Government plans to auction Penarth's geological sub-strata to the highest bidder go ahead, as expected, later this year.

The warning comes from Penarth Plaid Cymru's Ben Foday and Dafydd Trystan Davies, its parliamentary and Assembly candidates for Cardiff South and Penarth.

When asked whether Penarth could be targeted for fracking in the future Rob Thomas, director of development services at the Vale Council, said that any applications for licenses to begin exploratory drilling in preparation for fracking would need to be “considered and assessed once they have been submitted” and that it would be "difficult to comment on the likelihood of applications being made to the council for exploratory drilling for different areas within the Vale”.

He added: “The Council will need to consider applications taking into account a whole host of material factors, including environmental impact and the potential impact on any residential areas. If applications are received, they will only be considered following consultation and the consideration of any responses to that consultation"

Mr Foday, the Plaid Cymru parliamentary candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth, said: “Fracking has been proven to cause environmental problems, including the release of climate-changing gases, air quality problems, water pollution and large numbers of lorries on our roads.

“Health concerns have been raised by a medical journal in Australia. These include bringing radioactivity and heavy metals to the surface from deep underground through fracking, and respiratory problems resulting from air pollution. Fracking is also implicated in falling house prices, with some insurers in the US now refusing to cover fracking-related damages.

“The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition has provided a series of increasingly generous tax breaks to shale gas companies in their unseemly rush to drill for gas. The Labour Welsh Government is also known to be in favour of this controversial technique, which could take place in areas housing more than half the population of Wales.

“The only party willing to stand up for the communities facing this threat is Plaid Cymru, the Party of Wales.”

Dr Davies, the Assembly candidate for Cardiff South and Penarth, said: “More than half of the Vale of Glamorgan is currently licensed for fracking, with three exploratory drilling licences already in the hands of fracking companies. The remainder of the Vale, including the whole of Penarth, Sully and Llandough, will be covered by licences due to be auctioned later this year. It's worth bearing in mind that companies will drill horizontally in order to frack and that they can drill for distances of a mile or more horizontally. Fracking could end up taking place anywhere in Penarth, although it will be deep underground.

“For the sake of the future generations in Penarth, for the old and infirm who would be most seriously affected by air and water pollution and for a clean, green future powered by renewable energy, we back Plaid Penarth’s call for the Welsh Government to stand up for the people of Wales and use its authority to implement a moratorium on fracking until we know that the risks can be adequately managed.

“The Welsh Government controls planning for onshore oil and gas and could put in place a moratorium while it assesses the environmental and health impacts. The Republic of Ireland has just such a moratorium in place for the next two years. It is disappointing that the Labour Government in Wales has shown once again that it has no original opinions and appears to be keen to follow the Tories in London.”