Protestors demonstrated outside as the first Public Local Inquiry into a planning bid to extract coal bed methane from the Airth countryside opened in a Polmont hotel today.
Members of Concerned Communities of Falkirk, Falkirk Against Unconventional Gas and Friends of the Earth Scotland are fighting plans by Dart Energy to drill 22 wells and build a gas delivery, water treatment plant and pipeline on a four acre site at Letham Moss.
The company is ready to invest £120 million in the project to reach coal seams 3600 feet underground and tap into an estimated nine to 14 billion cubic feet of gas to help meet the UKs energy needs over the next 20 years.
It called on the Scottish Government to hold an inquiry into its planning application after Falkirk Council delayed its decision.
Douglas Bain, the company’s UK manager, said: “We’re pleased to have the opportunity of demonstrating the important strategic role gas will play in delivering safe, secure and economical energy to the UK in the coming decades.”
Mary Church of Friends of the Earth Scotland claimed: “By drilling into untouched coal seams and mobilising methane and toxic chemicals to escape through faults in the ground, Dart’s proposals could seriouslsy jeopardise Scotland’s climate targets as well as posing grave questions for local communities.”
The inquiry in the Inchyra Grange Hotel before lead Reporter Karen Heywood is expected to last three weeks.