Gas plan for Airth still on back burner

Dart Energy's location at Letham Moss near Airth
Dart Energy's location at Letham Moss near Airth

New planning rules on unconventional gas extraction have been backed by the company hoping to drill for coal bed methane gas near Airth.

Dart Energy claims the latest legislation from the Scottish Government to protect communities and the environment from the possible impact of such projects supports its proposed commercial development of land at Letham Moss.

A three-week public inquiry into Dart’s controversial scheme finished in April - two months before the amended Scottish Planning Policy and National Planning Framework was published.

Dart Energy, sold to UK-based IGas Energy for £117 million in May, had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to submit written comments on the changes.

And on Wednesday it confirmed it had. A spokesman said: “Dart Energy believes both are supportive of the proposed development and welcomes the Scottish Government’s acknowledgement of the role of coal bed methane in the diversification of the energy mix within Scotland.”

Giving Dart and objectors to the scheme the chance to make their points means a decision by Scottish Government Reporters on the appeal will be delayed.

The Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals has given objectors including Falkirk Council and Concerned Communities of Falkirk until July 29 to respond.

The council has confirmed it will meet the deadline and a spokesman for CCoF said: “Having only just received Dart Energy’s comments we can’t say at this time what specific points we will make, but would make the general point that although we welcome the new requirement in the amended SPP for ‘buffer zones’ to protect communities and the environment near unconventional gas developments, it seems the Scottish Government is dodging the question somewhat, and risking inconsistency, by deferring decisions to local planning authorities and statutory consultees who, like Falkirk Council and CCoF may need to draw on expert advice from third parties.”

Dart Energy has until August 5 to respond to the comments made.