Fracking protesters urged to unite

Anti-fracking campaigners at Wednesday night's meeting called for their message to be taken to every community.
Anti-fracking campaigners at Wednesday night's meeting called for their message to be taken to every community.

Anti-fracking campaigners throughout Fife converged on Glenrothes on last week determined to make a stand against the controversial industry.

Community groups from as far away as Rosyth, Cupar, Methil and Buckhaven joined around 50 other members of the public to discuss the issues. A number of local politicians were also in attendance.

It was the second such meeting to be held in the town in as many months and organised by members of Frack Off Fife group.

Campaigner Tam Kirby, who chaired the meeting, urged those present to put aside political differences and stand together in the common cause of fighting the proposals that could see exploratory wells set up across the region, as well as in waters just off the Fife coastline.

“We need a broad alliance of community groups, tenant associations and the public if we are to mount a credible stance against this type of industry,” he said.

And he said despite the Scottish Government having announced a block on planned fracking operations, pending further inquiries, he said there was no time to lose in what he highlighted as the potential dangers of the controversial gas extraction technology.

With the government’s moratorium seemingly not including the technique of Underground Coal Gasifiction (UCG) - the process whereby seems of coal are drilled into and set alight with gases then brought to the surface - concerns were raised at the licenced areas across Fife’s coastline that had already been granted for exploratory drilling by the Westminster government.

The threat to Fife’s coastal path, that could be blighted by such an industry, and fears over the possible contamination of groundwater supplies were also discussed as gas extraction companies assess the potential for drilling within the Firth of Forth.

A further meeting is planned for the spring.

Moratorium welcomed but the fight continues say campaigners

Just hours before the meeting in Glenrothes the Scottish Government announced a moratorium on all planning consents for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including the controversial technique of fracking.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing told the Scottish Parliament that the decision would allow for a full public consultation to be carried out regarding the controversial drilling technique, as well as undertake a full public health assessment.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, who spoke at the December meeting in Glenrothes, said the decision was a “huge victory for the communities, individuals and groups who have been campaigning to stop this dirty industry in Scotland”.

Melanie Ward, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the Glenrothes and Central Fife constituency told those attending on Wednesday night she supported Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour Party leader’s ‘triple lock’ policy which would allow a local referendum before any final planning approval would be granted.