Scottish Government announces ban on Underground Coal Gasification 

Review of independent evidence led to full planning ban on UCG drilling

COAL GASIFICATION in the Firth of Forth will not go ahead after the Scottish Government gave its full backing to a ban on the drilling. 

The victory for environmentalists and supporters of renewable energy was confirmed today [Thursday 6 October] in parliament by Scottish Government minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP.

The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on UCG in October 2015 then launched an independent investigation into UCG by Professor Campbell Gemmell of Glasgow University.

Gemmell’s report exposed serious concerns over public health, toxin exposure for workers, and a wider threat to the government’s climate change targets.

As a result, Wheelhouse said the government had concluded that UCG “should have no place in Scotland's energy mix at this time”.

Campaigners' victory as Scottish Government declares moratorium on underground gas extraction

“The Scottish Government does not support the development of the UCG industry in Scotland,” he added.

The government has control over planning law - which allowed them to enforce the original moratorium. Now the government has confirmed that no future planning consents will be allowed in any circumstances, meaning the technology is effectively banned in Scotland. 

Gemmell’s report concluded: “At this point, it does not appear, that the tests [on UCG] could be met. In which case, it would appear logical, the current moratorium being justified, to maintain it, or, as in Queensland, to progress towards a ban for the foreseeable future.”

While the Tories raised questions over whether this was a missed economic opportunity, Scottish Labour and Scottish Green MSPs welcomed the decision.

Research in Australia was also an influence on considering the potential environmental risks.

The Australian Institute had warned that “unconventional gas should not be endorsed from an environmental and human health perspective”.

The minister added that future research on the controversial issue of fracking would be released in the near future. 

Picture courtesy of BBC Democracy Live

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