from Sunday Herald, 22 February 2015
Nearly 30 campaign and environmental groups have this weekend written to the Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, asking for a halt to all underground coal gasification (UCG) developments because of the health and environmental risks. It is a “grave concern” that the technology has been omitted from the moratorium, they say.
Two private companies have advanced plans to gasify the coal that underlies large parts of the Firth of Forth and the Solway Firth. Between them they have five exploratory licences for the seabed off Kincardine, Musselburgh, Largo Bay, and in the middle of the two firths, plus an application pending for an area off Kirkcaldy.
One company, Cluff Natural Resources, founded by the multi-millionaire oil tycoon, Algy Cluff, has been in talks with Fife and Falkirk council officials in recent weeks and is intending to make planning applications for a Kincardine scheme this year. The other, Five Quarter, is based in Newcastle and backed by an eight per cent investment from the UK’s largest private landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch.
Ewing announced a temporary moratorium on onshore fracking and coalbed methane developments on 28 January. But he specifically excluded offshore UCG from the ban, despite having powers to include it.