No risky gas in Falkirk (or anywhere)
In August 2012 Dart Energy submitted a planning application to Falkirk and Stirling Councils to build 14 new well pads with 22 new coalbed methane (CBM) wells, pipelines to connect the sites, a gas processing and water treatment facility and a waste outfall into the Firth of Forth. The planned site covers a large area between Larbert and Airth with drilling planned 20m from some homes and directly beneath many more. Both councils rejected the planning application, and Dart Energy appealed to the Scottish Government resulting in a Public Inquiry which took place in March 2014. In October 2014, as we awaited the DPEA Reporters' decision, which was expected imminently, Scottish Ministers decided to recall the Dart Energy appeal for their own determination.
An official moratorium on unconventional oil and gas extraction was declared by the Scottish Government in January 2015. The Dart Energy appeal process was put on hold during this moratorium. The evidence-gathering and public consultation that took place during the moratorium led to the Scottish Government announcing an effective ban in Scotland .
The government reporters are now considering what to do with the Dart Energy appeal (note that Dart Energy (Forth Valley) Limited's interest as licensee in PEDL133 was assigned to INEOS Upstream Limited in May 2015). The reporters issued a request for further submissions in November 2017.
In January 2018 INEOS announced that it has instigated judicial review proceedings in respect of the Scottish Ministers' decision on 3rd October 2017 to introduce a planning policy banning onshore oil and gas development in Scotland.
It is unclear at this stage what will happen with the appeal.
The processes are new and there's powerful evidence from similar operations elsewhere that they entail significant health and environmental risks, which the proposal has overlooked, including the potential for long-term contamination of our air, farmland, watercourses and ecosystems, and other adverse impacts on our property prices, local economy, and general quality-of-life in the area.
In response to this evidence, Bans and Moratoriums on gas extraction are being imposed around the world, for example in New South Wales, Australia, where a new law was recently imposed, banning CBM (also called CSG) activity anywhere within 2km of residences and business clusters.
In his witness precognition statement, David K. Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow, concluded that the planned development "poses a threat to groundwater resources over the entire area of the [Proposed Development Area], and there is the additional risk that fugitive methane may even reach the surface", and in his view, "the development should be refused".
Concerned Communities of Falkirk is a group of residents from various communities throughout the Falkirk area who have come together because of their concerns over this important and controversial planning application. We have created a Community Mandate demanding an overhaul of local and national policy and a re-assessment of Dart Energy’s application. More than 2500 of these Mandates have now been signed by local residents and submitted to Falkirk Council and/or the Department of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA). Learn more about our Falkirk Against Unconventional Gas (FAUG) campaign.
Concerned Communties of Falkirk is a member of the Broad Alliance - a coalition of Scottish communities opposed to onshore and near-shore unconventional oil and gas development.