No risky gas in Falkirk
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 - the UK's first public inquiry into unconventional gas plans. 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, and the outcome of the Public Inquiry is not yet known. If the moratorium is lifted, the planning application could potentially be approved, and this concerns us.
If the planning permission is granted, this will be the UK’s first commercial production of unconventional gas from coalbed methane. This process has devastated communities elsewhere in the world. The Environmental Statement for this planning application states that "the current proposal is for the initial stage of the Full Field Development" indicating that this is the start of plans to develop a large gas field with possibly more than 100 wells in Falkirk local authority alone.
As part of the Scottish Government's moratorium research, a public consultation will be carried out. This consultation is due to start in early 2017 and is expected to run for four months. It is very important that the public take part in this consultation and make their views known.
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.
Support our Mandate and sign our Charter
Although Falkirk Council and the DPEA are no longer accepting comments/representations on the planning application you can still register your support of the Community Mandate using our online objection letter. A large number of objections will aid our cause in the upcoming Public Inquiry.
And if you live in the Falkirk area you can also now sign our Community Charter, a rights-based document that sets out all the things in our local area which residents have agreed are fundamental to the present and future health of our communities, and which may be at risk.
If you would like more information, or you would like to help with the campaign, visit our What you can do section. Anything you can do helps, no matter how small. This is our community and we must make our voices heard!