The Scottish Government are to be congratulated in refusing the planning application to generate energy by burning coal in-seam under the Firth of Forth. This process known as Underground Coal Gasification (UCG). A method of energy production favoured by the UK Government even though the UK Government funded research in the 1990s failed due to a major explosion at the El Tremedal site, in the province of Teruel, Spain, 1998.
This project would have put the ecology of the Firth at risk of devastating pollution from chemical and heat pollutions and there was a significant risk of explosion as happened in Spain where due to a strata collapse deposited millions of gallons of aquifer water that overlay the burning coal seam into the superheated seam. The explosion sent heavily contaminated water over many acres of farmland and lifted the trial site bodily from its foundation. (Demolition report 2005)
The Spanish experiment has been hailed since the clean-up as a success by those involved in the research funding: Britain, Belgium and Spain have since stated that the water entering the fire chamber was planned and as such was expected. The fact that the water inrush was the end of the coal burn can be read as such but the rushed clean-up of the phenolic liquor that covered a large area was not documented: the area was coated in new limestone chippings to neutralise the acidic discharge and soils had been removed to unrecorded depositories.
The Scottish planning permission was declined on the grounds of cutting greenhouse emissions and the Scottish Governments declared stance on reducing carbon emissions. The planning decision also stated that the process had a historical legacy of accidents and environmental issues.
Harvey Wood said today ‘I am delighted about the Scottish decision, the environmental consequences could have been catastrophic for the estuarine environment’. He went on to say ‘the choice of the Firth of Forth would have shielded the technology in the event of another blow back where pollutants might be spread over a large area as the waters would have to a great degree hidden such an event’.
- Clean Rivers Trust formed in 1990
- Has been actively opposing UCG since it visited the research site at Teruel with the UK Department for Trade and Industry in 1998
- In 1984 the National Coal Board had planned to carry out a UCG project in Nottinghamshire but due to other issues including the environmental issues of Nuclear Dumping Sites and the Sizewell ‘B’’ Enquiry the Government prevailed on the company to not carry their plans forward.
For further information please contact Harvey Wood, Director of the Trust.