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Coal-bed plan blocked
4 Dec 2013
Record Stirling Council has voted unanimously to
oppose an application for coal bed methane extraction in the region.
Dart Energy is taking its proposal to a
public inquiry next year, and wants to pump gas from a series of wells and
boreholes at Airth - three of which are in the Stirling area, with a further 11
Members of the council’s Planning and Regulation Panel all voted against the
planning application at a special meeting last Thursday.
Panel convenor Margaret Brisley said: “The panel has resolved to oppose the
granting of planning permission with regards to the forthcoming appeal by Dart
“This decision was reached on the basis that there are outstanding matters with
regards environmental impact, and that the proposal is contrary to planning
policy in respect of cumulative impact on the area.”
The plans will be heard by the Department of Environmental and Planning Appeals
Dart Energy has a licence from the Department
of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) giving it exclusive rights to certain areas
of Scotland - but would have to gain planning permission before drilling.
The licence covers most of Stirling and the surrounding areas including Raploch,
Cornton, Causewayhead, Riverside, Cambuskenneth, Top of the Town, King’s Park,
Braehead, Torbrex, Broomridge, Borestone, Hillpark, Milton, Bannockburn, Fallin,
Throsk, Cowie and Plean.
Public Inquiry into commercial
unconventional gas development is UK first
03 December 2013 Friends of the Earth
Scotland Key issues to be examined at the UK’s first Public Inquiry into a
planning application for commercial unconventional gas extraction will be
decided today (4/12/13).
Scottish Government Reporters will set the
scope and agenda for the Public Local Inquiry into
Dart Energy's plans for coalbed methane at
Airth, due to take place in the spring, at a meeting in Larbert High School this
The Inquiry is expected to be lengthy and cover complex technical ground
including potential public health and climate change impacts of the development.
The application faces strong community
resistance, with over 2,500 objections.
Falkirk and Stirling Councils recently
announced their opposition to the development, signalling a further
deterioration in the relationship between the planning authorities and Dart.
Norman Philip, Friends of the Earth Falkirk Co-ordinator said,
“The Falkirk communities have been asked to take more than their fair share of
the polluting industries for the benefit of the Scottish economy.
Dart's coalbed methane plans for Airth make
it the most advanced unconventional gas project in the UK.
This development is not wanted by the local
community nor needed by Scotland.
The only people who could benefit from this
development are corporate shareholders."
Walter Attwood, Friends of the Earth Stirling Co-ordinator said, “The failure to
act now to restrict carbon emissions and slow climate change will have the
greatest detrimental effect upon those who are at school, (and their children),
those who have no way of participating in the current planning process.
"It's increasingly clear that the public health and environmental risks of
unconventional gas drilling are inherent and impossible to eliminate, and the
Inquiry will go some way to exposing this."
Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said,
"Unconventional gas is unnecessary, unsafe and unwanted.
The Scottish Government has clearly stated
that Scotland does not need unconventional gas to meet our energy needs, and
extracting and burning it will jeopordise our climate targets and expose local
people to unacceptable health risks.
The local community has made it
resoundingly clear that they do not want this industry on their doorstep, or
It is our hope that the Inquiry will
support this position and signal the end of the unconventional gas industry in
Friends of the Earth Scotland is calling for a ban on all unconventional gas
extraction because of the climate and local environmental and health risks
associated with the industry.
However, short of a ban, the Scottish
Government's pledge to introduce buffer zones between gas sites and communities
could go some way to helping to protect those most vulnerable to the harmful
impacts of fracking and coal bed methane.
A legal fighting fund has been set up by Friends of the Earth Scotland and
donations can be made by visiting
SNP Confirm Planning Buffer Zones for
19 October 2013 Friends of the Earth
Scotland has warmly welcomed the Scottish Government's strengthened commitment
today to introduce buffer zones between unconventional gas developments and
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change spoke to a crowd of
concerned citizens and environment groups outside the SNP party conference today
in Perth and handed Friends of the Earth Scotland a letter from Planning
Minister Derek Mackay.
The letter says that Ministers have
listened to the large amount of feedback on their draft planning proposals and
are minded to introduce buffer zones around unconventional gas developments.
Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns, said, "While this
isn’t yet the ban we need, it is a firm step in the right direction and a huge
problem for Dart Energy’s current plans for drilling for gas in Scotland.
Dart should see which way the wind is blowing and give up now.
"We welcome the Government's recognition that buffer zones are necessary to
protect communities from the worst impacts of gas drilling and fracking, and
urge them to go further and join France, Ireland and many others by putting a
stop to all fracking and unconventional gas activity.
If Scotland is to play its part in reducing
global greenhouse gas emissions, we need to leave this fossil fuel in the
An extract from Derek Mackay’s letter, addressed to Dr Richard Dixon, Director
of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said,
"I note in particular Friends of the Earth Scotland’s comments warmly welcoming
the change to planning policy on unconventional gas from that set out in the
current SPP; and I can confirm that I am minded that the change will go forward
into the final version of Scottish Planning Policy, which will be published next
The move is in line with policy in New South Wales, which brought in buffer
zones of 2km near residential areas in February this year after strong community
Friends of the Earth Scotland are calling for a ban on all unconventional gas
extraction because of the climate and local environmental and health risks
associated with the industry. However, buffer zones would go some way to helping
to protect the communities most vulnerable to the harmful impacts of fracking
and coal bed methane.
The commitment from Mr Mackay comes on Global Frackdown Day, an international
opportunity for people to call on governments to stop dirty gas exploration.
A public inquiry is due to consider an application for commercial coalbed
methane extraction at Airth, near Falkirk, next year, following over 2,500
The project, by
Australian company Dart Energy, is the most
advanced unconventional gas project in the UK. If it goes ahead, it could open
the door on thousands of gas wells across the central belt of Scotland.
1. Global Frackdown Day is supported by over 200 organisations around the world.
Find out more at
FoE Scotland’s briefing on
unconventional gas is here:
2. Concerned citizens from Falkirk,
Stirling and Dumfriesshire and environment groups were gathered outside the SNP
conference today. Protestors built a mock drilling rig and ‘Daft Energy’ workers
3. Australian company Dart Energy is the leading unconventional gas developer in
Scotland. Dart’s flagship development at Airth, near Falkirk faces strong
community opposition and has been beset by delays, and attracted 2,500
In June 2013 Dart appealed their
application for 22 new wells, a gas and water treatment facility and a network
of pipelines to the Scottish Government on grounds of non-determination.
A Public Inquiry is expected to start in
early 2014. Dart also plan to drill for coalbed methane at Canonbie, where the
company has planning permission for wells at 19 sites; it also has a further two
licenses to explore large areas in Fife.
Another company – Reach Coal Seam Gas – is
hoping to develop coalbed methane in North Lanarkshire, where it has a license
to explore a large area. However, the company recently withdrew a planning
application for a development at Moodiesburn, following significant public
4. In 2014 the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will launch
the tendering process for its 14th round of onshore licensing during which a
vast swathe of the central belt of Scotland could be put out to tender for oil
and gas exploration. British Geological Survey announced this week that they
were launching a new search for shale gas in the central belt.
5. Bans and moratoria around the world
France: A nationwide ban on fracking
Switzerland: A moratorium on fracking was introduced in the canton of Fribourg
Germany: Moratorium in Northrhine-Westphalia on fracking. Lower Saxony likely to
do the same.
Bulgaria: Government banned fracking
Czech Republic: A moratorium on fracking, considering outright ban
Spain: Cantabria banned fracking, La Rioja is also currently considering same
Netherlands: Moratorium on unconventional fossil fuels
Denmark: Moratorium on fracking
Quebec: A moratorium on fracking
United States: Vermont banned fracking, and New York has moratorium
New South Wales: ban on any coal bed methane activity within 2km of residential
areas, and within critical industry clusters such as winegrowing areas
Ireland: 2-year moratorium on fracking
6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and
active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting
million supporters, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist