Day nine of the public inquiry into Dart Energy’s drilling plans for land near Airth has heard from a witness called by Friends of the Earth Scotland who are fighting the scheme.
Dr John Broderick of the Tyndall Centre is a recognised expert on the climate change implications of looking for a new source of fossil fuels.
Dart Energy has applied for planning permission to extract coal bed methane gas from seams around 3600 feet below Letham Moss.
He told Scottish Government Reporters that because methane is a “high carbon fossil fuel” the impact of emmissions from operations to release it must be considered as part of concerns about green-house gas emissions and carbon footprint.
Under cross examination from Mr Gordon Steele QC for Dart who suggested it was better to source energy from gas than coal, Dr Broderick agreed: “From the ‘climate change’ perspective there is a marginal benefit.” But he refused to accept Mr Steele’s view that it was better for gas for the UKs needs to be sourced from locations like Airth than further afield like Russia.
He said: “There are multiple sources of uncertainty and distance is only one mitigating factor.”
Mr Steele told the inquiry that in America the increased input of unconventional gas as opposed to coal has led to a decrease in emissions.
Professor Christopher Hilson, head of law at Reading University, told the inquiry local authorities have a responsibility to look closely at the regulatory framework to be in a position to respond to the demands of the industry.
He said: “Climate change is extremely important to this and future generations and there has to be a legal framework set out if they are to avoid a legal challenge.”