Communities at the mouth of the Forth will be consulted on plans for a highly experimental fossil fuel plant this week. On Thursday 4 June, Cluff Natural Resources opens an exhibition of its plans for the UK’s first deep offshore Underground Coal Gasification project in the Grangemouth-Kincardine area prior to submitting a planning application for the demonstrator plant later this year.

Reacting to the news Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“Underground coal gasification has an extremely chequered past, with recent trials resulting in serious pollution and even explosions. Cluff’s plan to undertake this highly experimental technique offshore is untested and poses a serious risk to the sensitive Forth ecosystem and the communities living near it.

“Communities around the Forth are asking why this damaging fossil fuel extraction is not under moratorium like shale gas fracking and coalbed methane.”

Cluff Natural Resources plans to build the UK's first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UGC) plant under the Firth of Forth. Like shale gas extraction, UCG involves extended horizontal drilling to access large difficult-to-get-at deposits, but instead of fracking, the coal seams are ignited underground and the gas captured at the surface.

Mary Church added:

“Underground Coal Gasification is a highly inefficient form of energy production that will undermine our efforts to tackle climate change. We know that we need to keep 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground so finding new ways to burn more is dangerously short-sighted.

“Scotland has an abundance of renewable energy potential alongside world-leading climate change targets which the Scottish Government should be working tirelessly to promote – not giving the go ahead to a risky, highly-polluting industry that is opposed by local communities across Scotland.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Cluff Natural Resources public exhibition is on Thursday 4th June 1-7pm in Culross : http://www.dunfermlinepress.com/news/news-roundup/articles/2015/05/28/898230-/

2. Over 30 Scottish community groups have emailed the Energy Minister calling for UCG to be included in the recent moratorium: http://www.robedwards.com/2015/02/call-for-fracking-moratorium-to-include-undersea-coal-gas.html

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

4. In February 2015, Cluff Resources entered into a memorandum of understanding with controversial US company Halliburton. Halliburton reached a $1.1 billion settlement with over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/02/halliburton-11bn-settlement-deepwater-horizon-spill 

5. Cougar Energy’s UCG trial plant in Kingaroy, Queensland was shut down in 2010 following explosions, contamination of groundwater and nearby livestock with carcinogenic chemicals. See: http://web.archive.org/web/20120119220916/http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/media-room/2011/07/01-cougar-energy-charged.html   http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/news/agriculture/agribusiness/general-news/kingaroy-shrugs-cougar-energy-challenge/2090607.aspx

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland Briefing on UCG http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/ucg-briefing

7. Scottish Government announced a moratorium on fracking and coalbed methane in January 2015 http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fracking-moratorium-scotland

8. Almost 900 people have emailed the Energy Minister Fergus Ewing to ask him to extend the moratorium to include UCG http://act.foe-scotland.org.uk/lobby/energy-minister-ucg

9. 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. www.foe-scotland.org.uk