DART INQUIRY: Evidence from Australia

The second week of the inquiry will  be held at Falkirk Community Stadium
The second week of the inquiry will be held at Falkirk Community Stadium

The fifth day of a public inquiry into plans by Dart Energy for a commercial coal bed methane gas extraction development near Airth has heard evidence from experts in Australia.

Scottish Government Reporters used a video link to listen to the views of chemist Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith and GP Geralyn McCarron who have both campaigned against unconventional gas schemes in the Tarra area of Queensland.

Dr Lloyd-Smith who has worked with the United Nation’s Environmental Programme for 25 years and the Australian Chemical Regulator for a decade spoke on the subject at a public meeting in Falkirk last year.

She told the inquiry it was a “general talk to share environmental concerns.”

Under cross examination from Mr Gordon Steele QC representing Dart Energy she agreed she had mentioned the term ‘fracking’ 24 times when that process is not part of the planning application submitted - but rejected his claim she was “scaremongering”.

Dr Lloyd- Smith said the impact of the drilling on the environment and health of the Tarra community was still being investigated.

Dr McCarron told the inquiry families had complained of skin rashes, headaches and eye irritation.

She said: “They thought they were living in paradise but now surrounded by a gas field. I don’t know all the reasons for the changes but they need to be properly investigated and this is something the people of Airth have to know. Before any planning application is granted a full health impact study should be carried out.”

Mr Steele questioned there was any link between the health issues and the drilling operations and said many of the claims were “irrelevant”. He told the inquiry: “Comprehensive monitoring will be part of the conditions of the planning consent at Airth.”