Dart Energy’s plans to drill for gas from an underground coal bed near Airth, Scotland, have come under scrutiny amid fears for the local environment, communities and climate targets.
The company has plans to drill 22 wells in an area close to Falkirk and Stirling councils. These have been met with opposition from many local residents and environmental campaigners, with 2,500 objections to the project put forward.
The company would like to extract methane from coal beds deep underground, but campaigners say that the process carries risks similar to those of fracking.
Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said, “By drilling into untouched coal seams and mobilising methane and toxic chemicals to escape through faults in the ground, Dart’s proposals could seriously jeopardise Scotland’s climate targets as well as posing grave questions for local communities.
“It’s increasingly clear that the public health and environmental risks of unconventional gas drilling are inherent and impossible to eliminate. What’s more, Scotland has abundant renewable energy sources, so we don’t need this new risky gas.
However, Douglas Bain, country manager for Dart Energy said, “We are pleased to have the opportunity through the public inquiry of demonstrating the important strategic role gas will need to play in delivering safe, secure and economical energy to the UK in the coming decades as we transition to a low-carbon economy.
“We will seek through the public inquiry to address and allay with scientific rigour the concerns of the communities.”
Church added that elsewhere, the practice has been proved unsafe, saying, “The local community has made it resoundingly clear that they do not want this industry on their doorstep, or anywhere.
“It is our hope that the inquiry will support this position and signal the end of the unconventional gas industry in Scotland.”