Company abandons plans for fracking the Forth

Anti-fracking protestors. Picture Michael Gillen.
Anti-fracking protestors. Picture Michael Gillen.

The company behind controversial plans to burn underground coalbeds beneath the Forth has surrendered its licences,

According to reports, Cluff Natural Resources - led by North Sea oil and gas veteran Algy Cluff - said a lack of support from the Scottish Government prompted the move.

In total, the company has handed back nine underground coal gasification licences to the Coal Authority, including central Firth of Forth and areas off Frances in Kirkcaldy and Largo Bay.

Investment in the project wound down significantly in 2015 and has now halted completely after the Scottish Government announced a moratorium on fracking and other unconventional energy projects.

Chief operating officer Andrew Nunn said: “In the absence of a supportive policy on UCG emerging from Westminster and the indefinite extension of the UCG Moratorium in Scotland, the company has today notified The Coal Authority, as the responsible authority for issuing UCG licences, that it is relinquishing its nine UCG licences.

“Given the uncertainty around the future of these assets which has existed for some time, these licences had already been fully written down in the company’s 2015 accounts.”

UCG involves drilling boreholes up to 1km deep, setting fire to underground coal seams, and extracting the resulting gas to heat homes.

However, the extraction method is controversial.

According to a report by Friends of the Earth International, it has “left a trail of destruction in its wake across the world”.