PEOPLE power is the only way to stop possible future fracking in Cwmavon and Pontrhydyfen, Neath Port Talbot Council's mayor told residents at a public meeting.
The packed meeting — with standing room only — was held at Cwmavon Community Centre on Tuesday night, to discuss an application by UK Methane Gas, asking for temporary permission to test land within Foel Fynddau Forest for methane and shale gases.
Keith Ross, of anti-fracking group Safe Energy Wales, explained to residents — who had turned out from all over the valley — what the application meant.
But before he spoke, Cwmavon councillor David Williams stood to explain why he and fellow planning committee members Dave Whitelock and Rob Jones, would not be speaking on the application, but listening to concerns, adding: "We are unable to give any opinion, we are here to listen, because on the 27th of next month, this comes before the local authority and we will be asked to vote," he said.
Mr Ross led concerned residents through the application, before raising issues with the application on the grounds of air pollution, noise impact and wildlife.
He said if approval was given, more than 200 large vehicles would be driven to the site during a three-month operation period — with lorries having to use the A4107 Afan Valley Road, because of corners in Cwmavon and because junction 41 is set to be closed.
Councillor Rob Jones told residents they should not only be writing to the local authority with their concerns, but also to the Coal Authority, Natural Resources Wales, the Health and Safety Executive and the Department of Energy and Climate Change — all of which the company will have to get licences and approval from.
One resident said though this particular application did not involve hydraulic fracturing — or "fracking" — the applicant had admitted if gas was found, further applications would go in.
He said: "It's a foot in the door proposal, this isn't for 10 weeks and then they are gone, if they find it, it's here forever."
Mayor, councillor Marian Lewis, called on the 7,000 voters across the area to write letters, adding: "People power is important."
The consultation ends on May 8.