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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 16:22 GMT 17:22 UK
Vote backs 'vital' gas pipe link
The gas pipeline under construction
Environmental protests and a planning row have held up work
Councillors have again backed plans for a vital link on a controversial gas pipeline spanning Wales after their original vote was declared "unlawful".

Neath Port Talbot's planning committee has approved the installation of a pressure reduction station at Cilfrew.

Work at the site was delayed in March after a High Court judge ordered they revisit the original planning decision.

Some residents in the village opposed it, voicing fears of an accident or explosion and traffic concerns.

Permission for the above-ground pumping station was narrowly granted last September when Neath Port Talbot Council's planning committee voted 13 to 12 in favour.

But residents who believed the situation was unfair took the decision to London's High Court.

A judge ruled in March that four councillors had been wrongly advised to abstain from the vote.

Following the High Court decision, National Grid warned that the planning row could delay the completion of the 190-mile (320km) pipeline.

It will run from Milford Haven to Gloucestershire and eventually supply up to 20% of the UK's gas needs.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will be shipped to Milford from the Far East and converted to natural gas at two terminals at the port before being piped to join the National Grid's main network.

'Absolutely safe'

Tuesday's vote was more emphatic with 22 councillors backing the application and 14 voting against.

David Mercer of Transco, which is building the pipe, said after the meeting: "The plant is absolutely safe - as the meeting heard the Health an Safety Executive are entirely satisfied.

"I do understand their [residents'] concerns but we have already moved this installation further away from the village."

The project has experienced a number of set-backs including a protest last November where demonstrators climbed inside the pipe during construction in the Swansea Valley.

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