No risky gas in Falkirk (or anywhere) - A timeline
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 .
In November 2017 further submissions were requested from all parties involved in the Public Inquiry, in light of the motion agreed by the Scottish Parliament. The reporters requested all parties’ views on what they should do with the appeals.
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.
In February 2018, having had regard to all of the submissions, the reporters concluded that the most appropriate course of action would be to maintain the appeals in sist until the outcome of the judicial review was known.
In October 2018 Ineos's petition for judicial review was unsuccessful, but the appeals remained in sist until the Scottish government's policy position on unconventional oil and gas was finalised.
In October 2019 the Scottish Government announced in parliament its final policy position on onshore oil and gas and confirmed that it does not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland and that there is no support from the Scottish Government for development connected to the onshore exploration, appraisal or production of coal-bed methane, shale oil or shale gas using unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing and dewatering for coal-bed methane.
And in February 2020 Ineos finally decided to withdraw its appeals.
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.