JJohn McNNallyThe Scottish Government has today (8 October 2015) put in place a moratorium on underground coal gasification (UCG) in Scotland.

This is separate to the existing moratorium on onshore unconventional oil and gas, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – and comes as ministers have also informed Parliament that the Government will carry out a thorough and wide-ranging research process into the potential impacts of such onshore techniques.

The announcement that a moratorium will be placed on offshore UCG in Scotland has been welcomed by the SNP.

Falkirk MP and convenor of the SNP Westminster group on fracking, John McNally said:

“I am delighted that the Scottish Government have taken this step. I have been doing a lot of work talking to the Scottish Government, my constituents and developers on this issue and I believe that it is the right move to allay public concern and carefully examine this developing technology.”

Commenting, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said:

“This welcome announcement is an extension of the Scottish Government’s cautious, considered, evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas and contrasts sharply with the Tory UK government’s gung-ho approach to the issue.

“The existing moratorium on onshore fracking has been welcomed by environmental campaigners and industry representatives alike. It is right that we also have a moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification until we have fully considered the impacts of this technology and the views of the communities which will be most affected.

“This new moratorium on UCG, however, will only cover planning proposals, as exclusive rights to exploit coal resources for UCG will continue to rest with the UK Government. There is a strong case for the full devolution of licensing coal, including underground coal gasification, in line with the forthcoming devolution of licensing of onshore oil and gas.”

Martyn Day, MP for Linlithgow and East Falkirk welcomed this decision:

“This is welcome news, hot on the heels of the timescales for the consultation on fracking. This new moratorium enables us to scrutinise the processes and determine exactly what this means in terms of environmental impact, public health impact, alongside economics and unnecessarily putting our healthy, green, natural resources at risk.

“These clean, natural resources are essential to Scotland’s reputation worldwide. For our successful businesses, it is absolutely necessary that we take this cautious, measured approach so as not to damage the credibility of Scotland’s flourishing food, drink and tourism industries.”

Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson added:

“The decision to put in place a moratorium on underground coal gasification will be welcomed by many of my constituents who have contacted me in the last few months. I too welcome this decision as I have placed on record my own reservations on this matter. I very much agree with the Scottish Government cautious approach which is based on evidence. There are too many questions on this matter which require answers”.

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