Airth farmer fears for the future of agriculture

The Dart Energy site at Letham Moss near Airth
The Dart Energy site at Letham Moss near Airth

The farmer who sold the land at Letham Moss Dart Energy now intends to drill for coal bed methane gas has told a public inquiry he now objects to its plaans.

Mr Leslie Dick of Linkfield Farm near Airth said he “fears” for the future of farming in the area if Scottish Government Reporters give Dart the go ahead.

He said: “I’ve been lucky to have lived my whole life in this beautiful area and want my children to enjoy that as well.”

Mr Dick, who farms 800 acres around Letham Moss, claimed he “reluctantly” agreed a deal with Dart Energy for one per cent of his holding. He said he had been “put under pressure” by land agents and been told that if he did not agree to sell the ground it would be subject to a compulsory purchase order.

He told the inquiry: “I was put under pressure. I hired legal advice but reluctantly dealt with Dart to make the best of a bad situation. But now my family’s future in farming is looking less secure and I’m concerned gas seepage could damage crops and get into the food chain.”

He said he had resisted two attempts by Composite Energy, the company later acquired by Dart Energy, to take the land by compulsory purchase.

Under cross examination from Mr Gordon Steele QC for Dart he admitted he had been “quite happy” to enter into an agreement with a housing developer for the land before “quite happily” entering into an agreement with Dart.

He also agreed that Dart paid all his legal costs and that when it completes the commercial gas extraction operations he will be able to buy all the land back - fully reinstated - for £1.

Mr Steele said: “The fact is the price was right and you were perfectly happy but now the community is upset you have been put in an awkward situation.”