Scottish government bans coal gasification project over environmental concerns

The Scottish government has banned coal-burning under the Firth of the Forth that had the potential to generate hundreds of jobs. Firth of the Forth refers to the estuary (firth in Scottish) of the river Forth.

According to the energy minister, the SNP government could not support underground coal gasification in Scotland due to the ''numerous and serious environmental risks'' posed by the energy extraction technique.

Cluff Natural Resources (CNR) had plans to set up the UK's first UCG plant in Fife, saying it would generate £600 million for the local economy, as well as hundreds of new jobs.

UCG or underground coal gasification involves burning coal seams for underground gas extraction.

Paul Wheelhouse, the energy minister, said, ''It is the Scottish Government's view that UCG poses numerous and serious environmental risks and, on that basis, the Scottish Government cannot support this technology,thecourier.co.uk reported.

''Accordingly, UCG will have no place in Scotland's energy mix at this time.

Andrew Nunn, the chief operating officer for CNR, said it was ''disappointing'' that the Scottish government ''decided not to trust'' its own regulators and Scotland's science and engineering talent to develop a safe industry.

According to Wheelhouse, he made the decision having regard to evidence from professor Campbell Gemmell, from Glasgow University,

There had been proposals to use the technique on coal beneath the Solway Firth and Firth of Forth.

The report by Gemmell had been commissioned by the SNP to look into the technique, which some environmentalists believe was significantly more dangerous than fracking.

Gemmell's report concluded it would be logical ''to progress toward a ban'' of UCG due to the  industry's history of pollution incidents and other problems.

The report also found that getting gas from coal using the technology threatened efforts to reduce Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions.

Wheelhouse said, ''Having considered the report in detail, it is the Scottish Government's view that UCG poses numerous and serious environmental risks and, on that basis, the Scottish Government cannot support this technology.