Falkirk, 10 October 2014
With regard to the public inquiry relating to Dart Energy's plans for coalbed methane extraction at Letham Moss in Falkirk, we received the following update from the Case Officer at the Directorate For Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) today:
"I am writing to confirm that Scottish Ministers have decided that the appeals should be recalled for their own determination given there is a high level of public interest in these proposals. There was considerable interest in this issue during the drafting of the Scottish Planning Policy (SPP), recently finalised. In light of this interest and relevance to the implementation of the SPP, Ministers consider there to be a national interest that would be best served by further scrutiny of these proposals.
"The reporters will now therefore submit a report, with recommendations to Scottish Ministers, who will make the final decision on these appeals."
We have also been informed that the report is likely to be submitted towards the end of the year and then the process will be handled by the Planning and Architecture Division. A decision can be expected within 3 months of the report being submitted.
CCoF welcomes Holyrood’s direct involvement. Their new planning policy reflects the view of local residents that unconventional gas necessitates a precautionary approach in which Scottish communities play a meaningful role. We are confident of a decision in line with these responsible policy aspirations, which are in marked contrast to Westminster’s recent moves to give gas drillers rights to forgo notifying communities of their proposals, and trespass beneath homes, using "any substance".