Reacting to the very lively debate at the SNP conference over fracking and unconventional fossil fuels today, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“SNP members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of reigning in Underground Coal Gasification, a risky and experimental technique of burning coal under the ground, with a very clear message to the Party leadership that what they really want is a full ban policy straight away. Underground Coal Gasification has a disastrous track-record from around the world of environmental pollution with recent test projects in Australia resulting in major contamination.

“Speaker after speaker welcomed the new moratorium from the Scottish Government but called for the party to take back a full ban on both fracking and underground coal gasification ahead of next year’s election. No-one spoke in favour of fracking or unconventional fossil fuels.

“Today’s debate highlights how strongly the SNP grassroots feel about Scotland’s energy future. We heard a clear message that Scotland should be investing in clean, green technologies and exploiting its abundance of wind, wave and tidal potential, instead of investing in the fossil fuel industry that further exacerbates the climate change crisis. Scotland is on track to transition to a low-carbon economy and meet its climate change targets only if it says no to the unconventional fossil fuel industry before it gets its foot in the door.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

1. The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on Shale Gas and Coal-Bed Methane extraction, including fracking, on 28 January 2015 pending a health impact assessment report, a public consultation, regulatory reform and planning reform: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fracking-moratorium-scotland

2. On 8th October 2015 the Scottish Government placed a moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification after facing mounting pressure from community groups and SNP grassroots members: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/2071

3. A new grassroots campaign group, SNP Members Against Unconventional Gas (SMAUG) was launched on 12th September 2015: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/node/2059

4. The Scottish Government has the power to place a moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification using its power over planning, environmental regulation and marine licensing: http://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-herald/20150724/281487865045429/TextView

5. Australian energy company Linc Energy responsible for an Underground Coal Gasification test project in Queensland, Australia has recently been taken to court by the municipal government for a major contamination event: https://theferret.scot/coal-gas-contamination-sparks-fears-disaster/

6. New York State implemented a ban on fracking after a Department of Health study concluded that not enough was known about the health and environmental risks: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/17/cuomo-fracking-new-york-state_n…

7. Friends of the Earth Scotland briefing on Underground Coal Gasification here: http://foes.do/UCG_briefing

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, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk