INEOS is withdrawing its planning application for unconventional gas extraction at Airth. The petrochemical giant’s decision comes 5 months after the Scottish Government confirmed its position of no support for fracking.

The planning application for commercial coalbed methane development near Falkirk went to public inquiry in 2014 and a final decision on the appeal was stalled due to the Scottish Government’s moratorium on unconventional gas, first put in place in 2015, and upheld on an indefinite basis last year.

INEOS’s decision to withdraw was revealed in correspondence to the Department for Planning and Environmental Appeals, which is handling the application, on Friday afternoon (13.03.2020). Friends of the Earth Scotland is a party to the appeal, having submitted expert witness evidence at the original inquiry.

Recent correspondence with the Department for Planning and Environmental Appeals suggested that INEOS intended to push ahead with its application, despite the Scottish Government’s position of no support for unconventional oil and gas, and indicated that the public inquiry would be reopened, in order to move to a final decision on the appeals, with the prospect of an extended and expensive process for parties and the public purse.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church commented,

“It is great news that INEOS has finally admitted defeat and are walking away from this dirty development. This is a real victory for the people across Scotland who campaigned for the moratorium against fracking, and particularly for the community at Airth who have been fighting this coalbed methane project since 2012. It’s a scandal that this climate wrecking project has been hanging over the community for so long given that they have opposed it since day one.

“The climate emergency means there is simply no excuse for any new fossil fuel developments. Following this welcome news, INEOS and the Scottish Government should now turn their focus to developing a credible and just transition plan for the plants at Grangemouth, which are amongst the biggest climate polluters and plastic producers in the UK.”

Notes to Editors

1. INEOS’s letter to the DPEA confirming that it is withdrawing its appeal for coalbed methane development at Airth is available at: https://theferret.scot/. Recent correspondence, including the DPEA’s proposal to reopen the public inquiry into appeals PPA-240-2032 and PPA-390-2029 is available at: https://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx?ID=94326

2. Communities have criticised the firm for trying to resuscitate their plans for coalbed methane extraction near Falkirk. (18/2/20) https://theferret.scot/ineos-underground-gas-scotland/

3. The Scottish Government announced a final position of ‘no support’ for fracking in October 2019. The decision came almost 5 years after the moratorium was first put in place and on the second anniversary of a statement to Parliament in October 2017 when Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced an ‘effective ban’ on the industry. The Energy Minister confirmed in Parliament that the Government’s position will be upheld by policy levers rather than the legislative ban that frontline communities and campaigners have long called for.

4. 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, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.

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