DART INQUIRY: Witness had ‘exclusive’ data

Objectors to Dart's plans have attended the inquiry each day
Objectors to Dart's plans have attended the inquiry each day

A witness has agreed he was supplied with data never seen by objectors before a public inquiry into a controversial gas extraction plan started.

Independent expert Dr Christopher Cuff, a geologist from Australia, was quizzed at the start of the fourth day of the probe into Dart Energy’s planning application to Falkirk Council to set up a commercial drilling operation to release coal bed methane gas from coal seams below Letham Moss outside Airth.

Dr Cuff who runs his own consultancy firm in Townsville near Queensland, was hired by Dart Energy in January to study environmental information it had prepared for the inquiry before Scottish Government reporters.

He told Sir Crispin Agnew QC, who is representing objectors Concerned Communities of Falkirk: “I had the entire data base and not aware it had not been available been made available to the council.”

Sir Crispin claimed: “The inquiry reporters and objectors have been put at a substantial disadvantage because they could not review the information you were given access to.”

Dr Cuff said: “I have to accept there is a good deal of information I have seen but the inquiry has not, but that was at the discretion of Dart and all the data is in the public domain.”

The inquiry is expected to last another two weeks.