Help Falkirk Fight Dart

This is the first of a series of articles on fracking in Scotland. The background is that Dart Energy submitted a planning application to both Falkirk and Stirling Councils to build 14 new well pads with 22 new coalbed methane (CBM) wells, pipelines to connect the sites, a gas processing and water treatment facility and a waste outfall into the Firth of Forth. The planned site covers a large area between Larbert and Airth and drilling is planned 20m from some homes and directly beneath many more. Both councils rejected the planning application after an extensive campaign from the local community and beyond which resulted in an unprecedented amount of planning objections. However but Dart Energy have appealed the decisions and there will be a Public Inquiry commencing next month. Concerned Communities of Falkirk was set up. It is group of residents from various communities throughout the Falkirk area who have pooled their efforts to lobby against this plan (the first commercial production of unconventional gas in the UK).

This short film gives some more background…

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  1. Drew McFarlane says:

    Are there no good points about Fracking that we could discuss?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You tell me Drew, experience from around the world tells us its an unmitigated disaster …

  2. picpac67 says:

    Everyone should listen to this audio of a talk given recently in London by a UK expert. You won’t need any other arguments.

  3. Ian elder says:

    The extraction of coal bed methane is not the same as the fracking of shale oil. In truth, I do not know yet if it is good or bad but we will only ever learn when we are presented with facts and not with generalisations and unsubstantiated arguments.

  4. Ever wondered how that new Methane storage facility at Grangemouth saved the plant from closure?

    1. MBC says:

      It was ETHANE, not methane. Confusing, I know, but very important distinction.

  5. BillfaeDenny says:

    Westminster and Dart Energy may find that we react to this in the same manner we rejected our role as guinea pigs for the Poll Tax.
    Many of us in Falkirk District still remember the reassurances we received from Rechem International when they applied for a licence to incinerate PCBs at Roughmute – “No smoke, No Smell, No Nuisance” the reality of which turned out to be the exact opposite.
    I just donated £20 to Concerned Communities of Falkirk. Anyone know where I can sign up for my Frack Off badge?

  6. The big questions is where does the money trail lead to?

  7. bringiton says:

    The first question must be… what are the benefits to the local communities from these activities and what if any detriments are there ?
    These are the issues to be weighed by whoever is going to consider planning consent and not how much money investors in Dart are going to make or lose or for that matter bribes to communities from the Westminster government.
    The Central belt of Scotland is heavily populated compared to other parts of the world where this activity has been carried out so any accidents (and there always are) will have a major impact on people.
    Investment in shale gas extraction is money being diverted from renewables and is,as usual with Westminster policies,a short term fix for a problem mainly affecting SE England which could well leave long term problems for communities affected.
    I hope the planning authorities just say Naw.

  8. A public enquiry starting next month. No public enquiry reports in less than 9 months. By which time assuming a Yes vote it will be up to Salmond and Swinney to decide what to do about the enquiry’s recommendation.

  9. Morag Parnell says:

    Coal Bed Methane drilling has been going on at Airth near Falkirk since the 1990s without public knowledge.
    There are proposals for more wells at Airth. Eventually there could be up to 100.
    A Public Inquiry into the current application will be held in March.
    The new Airth underground drillings could reach up to Linlithgow, Dunblane and under the Forth to Fife. 
    CBM is a potent greenhouse gas. Its recovery can  also seriously contaminate air, water,soil and people with many toxic substances. This puts Public Health at risk. Children are most vulnerable to such exposures.
     A detailed hydrogeological assessment for FAUG shows serious problems for a wide area of central Scotland.
    For the extent of licences to drill given, look at the official document from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. You may well be suitably horrified by the extent of the UK involved.The UK government has also offered large incentives (bribes) to Local Authorities and landowners to allow these developments to go ahead.
    For the coming Inquiry, Concerned Citizens of Falkirk have prepared a strong legal and technical case, have highly qualified experts to present evidence and have the support of Falkirk and Stirling Councils,nine community councils,West Fife & Coastal Villages Community Councils  along with thousands of local citizens and  other supporters who have objected to this planning application. Dart Energy appealed to the Scottish Government. Hence the Public Inquiry in March.       
    But we need a lot of money to meet the costs of the Inquiry.
    For the cost of a few coffees from each of us we will be helping to stop dirty and dangerous Coal Bed Methane developments at Airth. Not only that, helping to win our case at the coming Public Inquiry in March would have a significant effect on the viability of Unconventional Gas (UCG) exploration across the whole of the UK and beyond.
    Winning is within sight with our help.
    WENS has almost reached our Pledgebank target but we need a few more names before the end of February.  Otherwise it falls. 
    PLEASE DONATE BECAUSE the campaign at Falkirk to stop new Gas drilling has taken this significant new turn!
    Please add your name if you can. If you already have,Thanks. 
     Go to   Just add your name there.That is all .You don’t  send any money now.
    At the end of February you will be given the address to send your donation.
    This way of doing things allows the appeal to spread -time for as many of you as possible to contact friends and colleagues Please do! 
     More information at      
    Morag and Maire for WENS Scotland 

  10. florian albert says:

    ‘Targets of 100% national production through renewables requires large sustained subsidies .. The people can not afford these subsidies. Neither can business… which will lose competitiveness and jobs.
    Opponents of fracking can be ignored.’


    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Jim Sillars is just completely wrong. In energy terms he’s a dinosaur. Just because he was quite a good orator 30 years ago doesn’t mean we should listen to him about renewable energy or environmental justice. Sorry.

      1. florian albert says:

        Jim Sillars is a dinosaur. That’s him put in his place.

        You write that he was ‘quite a good orator 30 years ago.’ I think his importance has more to do with getting people to vote for him and winning election to Parliament.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          I simply meant that he doesn’t have any kind of technical authority on energy or environment matters.

  11. As was pointed out above, Coalbed methane and shale fracking are completely different operations. Not a clever article

    1. mmc27 says:

      That is correct. Dart claim they will not frack in this application although fracking is generally accepted practice as gas production declines over the life period of Coalbed Methane wells. Dart have no absolutely no qualms about using the technique elsewhere in their operations. CBM has devastated communities world wide, has and this development needs to be stopped in its tracks.

      Falkirk is by far the most advanced of any Unconventional Gas (UG) – Coalbed Methane(CBM), Shale and Underground Coal Gasification(UCG) development in the UK. New South Wales, Australia has banned the Industry within 2Km of residential areas and certain industries resulting in Dart Energy withdrawing from Australia to concentrate on their flagship European operations here in Falkirk. They have also joined forces with two French Companies TOTAL and GDF Suez, of note France has recently banned fracking.

      The application if approved will set the precedent for the commercial production of any Unconventional Gas in Scotland, indeed the entire UK. David K. Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, University of Glasgow, concludes that the planned development “poses a threat to groundwater resources over the entire area of the [Proposed Development Area], and there is the additional risk that fugitive methane may even reach the surface”, and in his view, “the development should not be permitted”. Check out for more information.

  12. mmc27 says:

    Correct. Coalbed mnethane and fracking are different operations, but both are extreme methods. Dart claim they will not frack in Airth, although it is is often deemed necessary to frack the seam to extract the gas (as gas production declines over the life period of coalbed methane wells.) and Dart have done this before – Dart have had no issues with using this technique elsewhere in their operations…..and CMB has just as much a devastating effect on the environmetn and communities living near these operations….

    Falkirk is by far the most advanced of any Unconventional Gas (UG): Coalbed Methane(CBM), Shale and Underground Coal Gasification(UCG) development in the UK. Dart are applying for the first commercial production of any Unconventional Gas, anywhere in the UK. It is nto a little local issue – it will have major implications in Scotland, across the UK and further afield

    In common with other unconventional gas extraction, such as Shale Gas, CBM wells do not produce large amounts of gas per well and production declines very quickly. It is therefore necessary to drill large numbers of wells, covering a huge swaths of the landscape e.g. New South Wales, Australia where it is known as coal seam gas (CSG). In NSW, Australia has banned the industry within 2km of residential areas, resulting in Dart Energy withdrawing from Australia to concentrate on their flagship European operations here in Falkirk. They have also joined forces with two French Companies TOTAL and GDF Suez (France has recently banned fracking). Like Shale Gas, there are similar negative environmental, social and health effects in CBM – these include toxic water contamination, including methane migration, air and land pollution, increased carbon emissions and a general industrialisation of the countryside. Impacts specific to CBM include depletion of the water table and potentially subsidence.

    If the planning permission is granted, this will be the UK’s first commercial production of unconventional gas from coalbed methane. This process has devastated communities elsewhere in the world and can be stopped.

  13. Drew Grozier says:

    Interesting article in THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD of March 8-9 2014 re CSG Contamination. Useful to anti fracking campaign in Falkirk.
    Energy company Santos has contaminated an aquifer in north-western New South Wales with uranium at levels 20 times higher than safe drinking water guidelines.
    The company was fined a derisory $1500.

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