Letham Moss drilling decision “months” away

1Objectors attended every day of the public inquiry
1Objectors attended every day of the public inquiry

A decision by Scottish Government Reporters into an energy company’s bid to drill for natural gas near Airth is likely to be months away.

The three-week public inquiry into Dart Energy’s controversial planning application for a commercial coal bed methane development at Letham Moss was completed last Friday.

It was the first of its type in the UK and was expected to be finally concluded after closing submissions were made by both sides next Tuesday and Wednesday.

But it was confirmed on Wednesday that, due to the publication of the Scottish Government’s amended Scottish Planning Policy document in June, additional inquiry sessions will now be needed for the parties to consider what it says.

It is understood this could mean any determination not being announced until August.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This inquiry has required very careful consideration of a great many issues and the impact of the new policy will have to be taken on board.”

Over the three weeks, 37 boxes of submissions were presented to Reporters Karen Heywood and David Buylla in evidence. They listened to statements from geologists, hydrogeolgists and biological scientists and heard the views of objectors Larbert, Stenhousemuir and Torwood Community Council, Concerned Communities of Falkirk and Friends of the Earth Scotland.

Issues raised included the impact the CBM development could have on the environment and the health of the local communities. Pollution, noise, air quality and climate change were also high on the agenda as well as the threat to wildlife, including water voles, great crested newts and birds, from the plan to pipe the treated water from the process into the Firth of Forth.