The Scottish Government is due to make an announcement about controversial fossil fuel exploitation Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in Parliament tomorrow (6/10/16). This may include a decision on whether to ban or allow this process in Scotland. Friends of the Earth Scotland urge the Scottish Government to listen to the evidence from around the world and to the concerns of local communities and ban the technology.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns Mary Church said:

“Setting coal seams under two of our major Firths alight is a reckless idea and we urge the Government to listen to communities, act decisively and make sure Underground Coal Gasification never takes place in Scotland. The history of UCG is littered with contamination incidents, ground subsidence and industrial accidents around the world. The climate change consequences of permitting UCG are enormous and allowing the industry to take root would be completely out of step with Scotland’s world-leading ambition to tackle global warming.”

“As the European Union ratifies the Paris Climate Agreement with its commitment to keep warming under 1.5C, it must mean a radical change in our energy systems. Nations must commit to leaving fossil fuels in the ground and we hope that the Scottish Government will put climate change at the forefront of its decision-making.”

A moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification was put in place on 8 October 2015. The moratorium is separate from the ongoing moratorium on shale gas fracking and coalbed methane extraction.


Contact details: Connal Hughes
Friends of the Earth Scotland Press Office


Notes to Editors

1. A Ministerial Statement on Review of Underground Coal Gasification is scheduled in Parliamentary Business for 2.30pm on Thursday 6th October.

2. The Scottish Government commissioned a review of UCG from Prof Campbell Gemmell, former CEO of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, to inform their decision. Prof Gemmell submitted his report to Ministers last month. http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Moratorium-on-underground-coal-gasification-1e1a.aspx

A separate evidence gathering process on shale gas and coalbed methane is drawing to a close with a number of studies expected to be published soon, and a public consultation due this winter.

3. In July Friends of the Earth published a global review of the terrible record of Underground Coal Gasification experiments around the world ‘Fuelling the Fire’ – http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/UCG-fuelling-fire-report

4. Six licences to carry out experimental UCG in Scotland were issued by the Coal Authority. Cluff Natural Resources hold 3 licences in the Firth of Forth at Frances, Kincardine and Largo Bay. Five Quarter hold 3 licences at Central Firth of Forth, Musselburgh Offshore Area and the Solway Firth. Five Quarter recently went into receivership.

5. Groups opposed to UCG and fracking are holding a rally on Portobello Beach on Sunday 9th October https://www.facebook.com/events/1000906010036538/

6. The Queensland State Government banned Underground Coal Gasification earlier this year following the catastrophic failure of a UCG test project. Operator Linc Energy is being sued by the Government for ‘irreversible environmental damage’ and the company has recently gone into liquidation and so is unlikely to pay the clean-up costs estimated to be around A$30 million. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/18/queensland-bans-underground-coal-gasification-over-environmental-risk

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