Reacting to news in the Sunday Herald that nearly 30 community and environment groups have written to Energy Minister Fergus Ewing to ask him to include underground coal gasification projects in the Scottish Government’s unconventional gas moratorium, Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns, said:

“Underground coal gasification is the most experimental and frightening method of unconventional gas extraction currently threatening Scottish communities. Not only have recent trials around the world gone badly wrong, but the likely climate impact of this inefficient technology is simply unacceptable. It makes no sense for a country with ambitious climate targets and the means to achieve them with renewables to flirt with such a risky form of energy production.

Cluff Natural Resources plans to build the UK's first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UGC) plant under the Firth of Forth.

“Communities threatened with Cluff's plans to ignite the coal under the Forth are asking why hasn't the Scottish Government acted to protect them in the way that communities facing shale gas fracking and coal bed methane drilling are. The case to include underground coal gasification in the new moratorium and planned work on health and environmental impacts of unconventional gas is crystal clear, and the means of doing so totally within the power of the Scottish Government.”

Reacting to news that Cluff have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with energy services company Halliburton, Church added:

“If the dodgy history of underground coal gasification experiments weren't enough, Cluff's choice of controversy-dogged Halliburton as business partners should set alarm bells ringing.  The energy giant has been linked with numerous environmental incidents and spills including the disastrous Deepwater Horizon, and is known for getting fracking fluids excluded from safe water drinking legislation in the USA. If Cluff and Halliburton plan to take a similar approach in Scotland, then this union is a very serious cause for concern.”

Notes to Editors

1. Hundreds of people have also emailed the Energy Minister calling for UCG to be included in the moratorium: http://foes.do/energy-minister-ucg

2. Sunday Herald Story: “Communities across Scotland unite against ‘undersea fracking’” – not online yet

3. Cluff Natural Resources plans: http://www.cluffnaturalresources.com/projects.aspx

4. Scottish Government announced a moratorium on fracking http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fracking-moratorium-scotland

5. Halliburton reaches $1.1bn settlement over Deepwater Horizon oil spill http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/02/halliburton-11bn-sett…

6. The Halliburton Loophole, New York Times, November 2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/opinion/03tue3.html

7. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 74 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.