Dart Energy Lodges Appeal For Planning Application
By Leigh Teixeira
Australian firm, Dart Energy that uses unconventional means to extract gas, has appealed to the Scottish government, to pass its ruling on their proposition, to extraction gas, from Central Scotland’s coal seams.
Dart Energy initially lodged the application to go ahead with the extraction, with the Council in Falkirk during September of last year. There are a number of sites in the Forth Valley that they wish to explore.
They haven’t yet received any information from the council, regarding a decision, on whether or not their application has been approved. Dart Energy has now lodged their appeal with the government.
Dart Energy has already drilled a total of 20 wells, for the extraction of gas, in the area and would like to drill an additional 14 wells, as well as construct a treatment plant for water and gas.
Dart Energy’s process of extracting the gas, is to drill a well that goes straight down through the coal seams. They will drill a maximum of 4 lateral wells, that run though the seams of coal, and intersect the wells that run vertically. Water is pumped through and the pressure decreases causing the gas to be released, and rise up through the wells and into the pipeline which is connected at the surface.
There have been a large number of objections lodged against their application. Dart Energy has also had to apply to the Council in Stirling as a portion of the gas fields are within its borders. The progress of this project is still being delayed by Falkirk’s Council.
Dart Energy released a statement recently saying, that Falkirk Council has extended their deadline, on when they would offer a decision on the application by 4 months. The energy firm is now seeking clarity on when their application will be finalized.
The General Manager for Dart Energy Europe, Mark Lappin, says that the company’s plan to extract gas from the Forth Valley was put together very carefully. Through the development process, they worked closely with the necessary regulatory bodies including Scotland’s Environment Protection Agency.
Mr. Lappin feels that this sort of project is significant to the whole country. There is potential to extract such a large quantity of gas that Dart Energy has struck an agreement with UK energy giant SSE. This is essential to ensure the UK has a secure supply of gas, especially as the supplies from the North Sea are steadily declining. He feels that with this in mind, the Scottish government should clearly see the importance of such an investment.
Ian Dryden, the development manager, for the Council of Falkirk, said that the council was fully aware of Dart Energy’s decision to put through the appeal, even though hadn’t yet received any official notification.
Mr. Dryden says that this application is to go ahead with a complex procedure that poses many environmental issues. Before they can make a decision they need to thoroughly take into consideration all these issues as well as public opinion on the matter. Throughout the process, the Council has been in contact with Dart Energy.
The Scottish branch of Friends of the Earth is strongly urging the government to decline the application. The coordinator, Mary Church says that Dart Energy’s insistence on taking this matter to government, makes it clear that they aren’t prepared to wait out the proper procedures, that take place within the council, for applications like this.
Ms. Church feels the risks to the environment and public health, caused by this sort of drilling, is not something that can either be over looked or prevented.
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