Thursday, 3 September 2015

Underground coal burning across the Firth of Forth

Some background from the Herald:

COAL-GAS company involving the UK's biggest private landowner, the Duke of Buccleuch, has been accused of "bullying" after it slapped a legal gag on a lone environmental campaigner.

Lawyers acting for Five-Quarter, a Newcastle-based firm that wants to exploit gas in undersea coal seams, have threatened to sue an Ayrshire business analyst for "malicious falsehood"...

Mel Kelly wrote a 42-page report entitled Theft Of Austerity Britain's Coal on what she sees as the danger of underground coal gasification. It criticises Five-Quarter, its directors and other firms, and has been circulated to politicians and the media.

Some background from the Morning Star:

INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe has received private assurances from the SNP that it does not oppose fracking...The Switzerland-based billionaire said his business was given the nod earlier this year during private talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the same day her party confirmed a moratorium on the damaging extraction process.

Some background from the National:

Cluff Natural Resources, who have licences to explore the possibility of underground coal gasification (UCG) in three sites in Scotland, wrote to the Scottish Government at the time of the moratorium on fracking, asking if their operation would be affected by the temporary ban.

In a letter to Communities minister Alex Neil, Algy Cluff, the company’s chief executive, said his company "has already committed to invest a significant amount of money"...

Responding, Alex Neil said that UCG was not covered by the fracking moratorium.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "No company should ever be allowed to hold Scottish ministers or Scotland’s environment to ransom like this. This latest revelation again highlights why plans to burn coal under the sea should be a non-starter, and why the Scottish Government must extend its moratorium on unconventional gas extraction to include underground coal gasification."

Currently, Cluff Natural Resources and Five Quarter Energy Holdings both have licences to explore UCG. Cluff is looking at sites under the Firth and Forth, Kincardine and in Largo Bay.

Five Quarter is also looking at a location under the Firth and Forth and a site in Musselburgh...

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, Tommy Sheppard, SNP MP for Edinburgh East, said: "Underground coal gasification to me is a more problematic technology than fracking because it involves going into disused coal seams and applying not only high pressure but very high temperatures, and I think the potential for something going wrong is much more considerable than it is with fracking."

Mel Kelly got an email from Newcastle law firm Muckle telling her to "cease and desist" distributing her report to avoid a costly legal action. Such gagging has been termed a SLAPP - a strategic lawsuit against public participation.

She said: "I will continue campaigning to raise awareness of underground coal gasification, which will likely prove to be just as controversial as fracking, once the public and legislators become fully aware of the many possible consequences for our health, wealth and environment."

No commercial operations have come from underground  coal gasification anywhere in the world and what small trials there have been have caused horrendous environmental damage.

Mel Kelly explains that companies will build onshore surface plants, then start drilling horizontally, then drill vertically to reach coal seams underground. [I think she means they will drill vertically, then horizontally and has got this the wrong way round in the video.] They plan to go under water, to coal seams just off-shore that connect to the mainland. The plan is to burn billions of tonnes of coal underground in order to extract gas useful to the company but there is no requirement for them to collect the carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide or other toxic gases that leak to the surface, as a result of the process. Apart from the pollution of soil, water and air, there is the risk of explosions and subsidence.  All of this is being planned for an area around the Firth of Forth, that will affect a stretch almost between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the most densely populated part of Scotland.

Not only that, but the Kincardine Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge are important commuter routes in Scotland and in striking distance of huge chemical plants - not the sort of places that should be put at risk of collapse or explosions, Mel Kelly asserts.

What can be said is that those who claim to be corporate parents who know better about families and children, than the families and children themselves, are found to make the most horrendous decisions for children and future generations.

Dates for the calendar

Saturday 26 September Get the frack out of Scotland. 1 to 5 pm at Holyrood.

October 11th at 2pm on the Forth Road Bridge ...protect the Firth of Forth from Underground Coal Gasification. A family and community event, linking hands across the bridge.

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