FIRST minister Carywn Jones said control of fracking should be devolved from Westminster - and the country should then consider a moratorium.

Fracking - short for hydraulic fracturing - releases shale gas and oil by drilling deep into the ground and directing a high-pressure water mixture into the rock.

But it has been linked to earthquakes and contamination of ground water.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood asked Mr Jones AM during plenary today: “Yesterday the environmental audit committee at Westminster published a significant report and they made a key recommendation, and I quote: ‘A moratorium on the extraction of unconventional gas through tracking is needed to avoid both the inconsistency with our climate change obligations and to allow the uncertainty surrounding environmental risks to be fully resolved. Plaid Cymru supports a moratorium. Does the Welsh Government agree?”

Carwyn Jones replied he could not do this unless powers over fracking were devolved. He added: “I think licensing should be devolved and then we should consider a moratorium.”

Ms Wood replied: “Many people are going to be confused and frustrated that you say one thing and you do another. You haven’t made any representations to the Westminster government. You take no action in order to gain such powers.”

Mr Jones replied: “The issue of fracking is something representations have been made on. It’s part of the St David’s Day process. We want to see it devolved to Wales. The last thing we should do is move to a situation where we try and have powers given to us in an ad hoc fashion.”