Gas plans could mean windfall for villages

Dart Energy hopes to access gas in the coalbed
Dart Energy hopes to access gas in the coalbed

A new method of gas production - which could play an important part in Scotland’s fuel future - may also mean cash for a local community.

Dart Energy has applied to Falkirk Council for permission to drill for coalbed methane.

The company has been working at the site between Airth and Plean since 2004 and has been extracting gas from the coalbed to be turned into electricity. But the new plans would see 14 wells constructed, generating enough gas to supply hundreds of homes.

Once brought to the surface, it will be transported by underground pipeline to a gas- gathering facility situated near existing national gas network pipelines.

If approved, it will be the first site of its kind in Scotland and could lead the way for hundreds of others

Mark Lappin, manager of Dart Energy’s European operations said the method of gas production could safeguard the future of UK gas supplies.

He said: “Last year, for the first time, Britain imported more gas than we produced.

“We rely heavily on gas and this is a way of producing it and making us less reliant on international import.”

Mr Lappin was keen to point out the gas extraction method is not ‘fracking’ – which uses fluid pressure to access the gas – and the wells will simply tap into the natural gas in the coal bed.

He continued: “There is a lot of confusion over what we do but it is not fracking.

“We have been working on the site since 2004 and have invested £40 million so far developing the process. We know we can access gas and have been converting it to electricity – the only difference now is we will instead be supplying the gas network.”

If approved, the site could produce around one billion cubic feet of natural gas and generate millions for the local economy. Dart Energy is currently in discussions to set up a community fund which would see locals benefit from the gas production site.

The application is expected to go to Falkirk Council’s planning committee in the new year.

Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood Community Council is looking for the views of the local community on the proposal. The committee has already met with Dart Energy and wants to gauge public reaction before making a decision to support or oppose the plans.

Community council convener Eric Appelbe said: “We had a private meeting with Dart and were satisfied with their answers to our queries.

“There was a good turnout of local people at the last community council meeting when the application was discussed but we are keen to hear from more residents.”

You can contact the community council by emailing lst-cc@virginmedia.com or through its Facebook page.

For further information on coalbed methane production visit www.dartenergyscotland.com.