Commenting on news that SEPA is investigating a possible gas leak from Dart Energy’s coalbed methane project at Canonbie, Dumfries and Galloway, Campaigns Co-ordinator Mary Church said:

“If it turns out that methane gas is leaking from wells at Dart’s Canonbie project, then this is yet another nail in the coffin for the company’s coalbed methane plans in Scotland.

“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that not only poses explosion and health risks, but also adds to the challenge of meeting our climate targets. We can’t afford to go down the route of risky unconventional gas, and we don’t need to given Scotland’s abundant renewable energy potential. Scotland should concentrate on green energy and ban coalbed methane and fracking projects.

“If SEPA’s investigation demonstrates the gas leak is linked to coalbed methane drilling, it will add to a catalogue of alarming gas leakage from unconventional gas fields in Australia and the USA.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland are calling for a ban on all unconventional gas extraction and fracking because of the climate and local environmental and health risks associated with the industry.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Today’s Sunday Herald reports the SEPA investigation and community concerns: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/sepa-probe-at-coal-bed-me…

2. Australian company Dart Energy is the leading unconventional gas developer in Scotland. Canonbie is one of its two most advanced sites, and while still in the testing stage, over 19 wells have been drilled. The company has permission from SEPA to use the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique for coalbed methane at this development, although no fracking has taken place to date.

3. Dart’s other key development at Airth, near Falkirk faces strong community opposition and has been beset by delays. The Sunday Herald recently revealed that the quality of gas extracted from Airth is so poor that it might require three tankers of propane a day to bring it up to necessary standards to feed into the grid http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/burning-issue-poor-gas-qual….

4. Dart Energy’s share price continues to stay low despite major job cuts: “Controversial gas developer Dart Energy fights to stay afloat” http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/1574 and http://www.asx.com.au/asx/research/companyInfo.do?by=asxCode&asxCode=dte

5. Dart Energy has pulled out of its Australian ventures following a ban on all unconventional gas activity – not just hydraulic fracturing – within 2km of residential areas introduced by the New South Wales Government. http://www.resources.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/458018/TOUGH…

6. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that over its short lifetime is over a hundred times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. Research indicates that unconventional gas could be worse in climate terms than burning coal because of methane leakage from gas fields. See http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Howarthetal2012_Final.pdf from Cornell University and http://www.nature.com/news/methane-leaks-erode-green-credentials-of-natu… from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who found that 9% of total gas production at a field in Utah was leaking into the atmosphere.

7. A study by the Queensland Government found that 44% of the 58 wells tested in 3 fields were leaking http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/assets/petroleum-pdf/tara_leaking_well_…. Research by the Southern Cross University in Australia that found gas was leaking at around 3.5 times the level expected in CSG fields http://www.scu.edu.au/news/media.php?item_id=6041&action=show_item.

8. 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, 77 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups – covering every continent. www.foe-scotland.org.uk