Today Concerned Communities of Falkirk got the opportunity to put Cultural Heritage, from participation to community values, in front of the Inquiry.  Input ranged from a very personal account of concern over the threat to a local resident’s dream home and an expert on cultural values to a former leader of Falkirk Council, who highlighted the conflict between the application and the aspirations of the Council for the area to move beyond its industrial past.

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The Convenor of one of the affected community councils criticised the consultation process and the lack of information, even when it was requested by the community council.  He also stressed the extreme difficulty for a community council, relying on volunteer time, in appraising a complex application like Dart’s.  Last week we heard how Sweden and Canada provide funds to help community groups take part in the planning process.

Dart had proposed a good neighbour agreement, but the community council rejected it, in part because they had had no part in drawing it up.  There was sharp criticism for SEPA for using Dart’s slides in their presentations to the community.

A local arable farmer, who owns land that Dart have used for one of their pilot drillings and need for five well sites, and the gas and water treatment plant in the proposed development, talked about being put under pressure to sell land to Dart, giving in under the threat of compulsory purchase.  He is worried about fulfilling current contracts and specifically mentioned Dart’s refusal to put a financial bond in place to clean up any contamination – an issue we will be raising later. He claimed that one of the wells was fracked and grain yields were reduced on that field. He also told a story of waste water dumping on his land, in the middle of the night, by one of Dart’s predecessors. Dart’s QC started by asking if had written his own evidence.  He had.

At the end of the day we started a new session on air pollution, noise and health impacts, as well as the first bits of evidence on climate change.  We’ll be getting our teeth into this subject tomorrow.

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