Hundreds of protestors from across Scotland joined hands across the Forth this weekend to demonstrate their opposition to fracking.
The Hands Over Our Forth protest went ahead after the Scottish Government extended its moratorium on fracking to underground coal gasification (UGC) last week.
Oil and gas company Cluff Natural Resources has three licences to explore UCG in the Firth of Forth, covering large areas around Kincardine, East Wemyss, Kirkcaldy and Largo Bay.
Local MSP Alex Rowley joined demonstrators at the Forth Road Bridge, describing UCG as “very risky experiment with serious safety implications for all of us.
“It is very important that we highlight the massive dangers that would come if this kind of commercial operation was allowed to go ahead and it is my own view that the scientific evidence around the threats and dangers of this activity is so great that we must now see the moratorium turned into a ban.”
Audrey Egan of Frack Off Fife warned: “The consequences of a leak in the Forth are unthinkable, with risks to drinking water, marine life and the tourism and fishing industries. UCG has a terrible track-record, with widespread examples of irreversible environment, water and air pollution.”
Campaigners welcomed the news that Scottish Government ministers had extended the moratorium on fracking to UCG, although ministers stressed there were two separate technologies, subject to different licensing regimes, and will be considered separately. The Scottish Government has appointed Professor Campbell Gemmell, former CEO of SEPA, to lead an independent examination of the issues and evidence surrounding UCG. This will include working closely with communities and stakeholders to understand the issues of most concern to them.
Mary Church, Head of Campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, responded to the announcement: “Well done to Fergus Ewing for announcing this important new moratorium. Underground coal gasification is a risky and experimental technique, with a very chequered history around the world. This industry clearly deserves the same public scrutiny as shale gas fracking and coal bed methane.”