Scottish ministers were privately warned by a multi-millionaire oil tycoon that Scotland would lose £250 million worth of investment if they blocked plans to extract coal gas from under the Firth of Forth, reports The Ferret.
In a letter to the planning minister, Alex Neil, and the energy minister, Fergus Ewing veteran entrepreneur Algy Cluff said that including his plans for underground coal gasification (UCG) in the fracking moratorium would have a “potentially devastating” impact on his company’s “ability to operate and invest further in Scotland”.
A week later later Neil replied, reassuring Cluff that “the moratorium does not apply to the offshore underground gasification of coal”. But Cluff’s comments have now prompted a prominent SNP politician to call for the moratorium to be extended to include UCG.
Tommy Sheppard, the MP for Edinburgh East, said that UCG was “more problematic than fracking because it has a greater risk of underground explosions.” Cluff’s letter was “likely to be counter-productive”, he told The Ferret.
Sheppard added: “The Scottish Government’s moratorium applies to planning applications for unconventional gas extraction. By any measure UCG is unconventional. I would therefore have thought that if Cluff makes an application for land-based facilities to drill for coal gas under the Firth of Forth, he should be refused.”
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