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PLANS to drill for shale gas in a zone around Brive that included the south of Corrèze, northern Lot and eastern Dordogne have been rejected.
Ecology Minister Delphine Batho ended a three-year battle over the plans, lodged by Singapore company Hexagon Gas and its British director Toby James Read, to drill exploratory wells to find out if there was any hydrocarbon gas or liquid locked in the underground rock.
She said she would not allow France to be “turned into a giant gruyère”.
The minister told newspaper La Montagne she had made her decision after doubts over the company’s real purpose in searching for coal gas - gaz de houille - as the known coal deposits were at a maximum depth of 250m and the company said it planned wells at least 750m deep: as for shale gas - gaz de schiste.
She added that the exploratory wells would have needed to use the technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that was banned in France by the Sarkozy government as it could lead to pollution of underground water sources.
Ms Batho said the 1,777sq.km Brive permit would be rejected by the prefect in coming days and would join the rejection of drilling proposals for Cahors and Beaumont-de-Lomagne.
Protests against the plans had seen thousands protesting in the streets of Brive and Sarlat earlier this month.
Ms Batho told the newspaper the protests “showed that French people do not want the country to be turned into the giant gruyère that shale gas exploitation demands”
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