DART INQUIRY: Views on visual impact heard

Scottish Government Reporters Karen Heywood and David Buylla have now heard 11 days of evidence
Scottish Government Reporters Karen Heywood and David Buylla have now heard 11 days of evidence

The visual impact of a commercial coal bed methane extraction plant near Airth was considered by the public inquiry being held into Dart Energy’s proposals.

On day eleven of the hearing Scottish Government Reporters were told a landscape assessment has been prepared in support of the company’s planning application.

Dart expert James Truscott said the development at Letham Moss will be completed in stages with wells to reach the gas around 3600 feet below ground being drilled one at a time. The drilling rig that will be used is just over 27 metres high - but will only be on each site for around two weeks before it is moved away and replaced with a permanent production well around two metres high although during the three month commissioning phase a 14 metre high venting pipe will be in place at each well.

Mr Truscott said: “The well head, its cage and surrounding fencing will become the main feature of each site.”

He said earth excavated to create a ‘bund’ no more than four metres high to absorb the noise will also be removed once the work is completed but agreed that next to the gas delivery and water treatment facility two exhaust stacks each around 20 metres high will be permanent fixtures. Across the site mature and young trees will be planted at each location to form a permanent screen.

Dart’s plans are being challenged by Concerned Communities of Falkirk. Mr Ian Cowan, an environmental and planning law consultant, said one part of the development is less than 400 metres from the end of a residential road. He claimed: “The appropriate process has not been gone through. There has been no adequate assessment of landscape sensitivity. In our view Dart’s assessment is utterly wrong.”

The public inquiry is due to finish on Thursday.