Scotland has widened its moratorium on shale gas to include underground coal gasification(UCG), a form of gas extraction where oxidants are injected into underground coal deposits to heat them to temperatures that allow gas to escape.
Announced yesterday, the Scottish government also plans to start an in-depth investigation into the impact of fracking the outcome of which, due in spring 2017, will allow ministers to decide whether to keep the shale gas moratorium in place or not.
Despite the UK government’s plans to go ‘all out’ for shale gas, Scotish ministers have been more cautious about it’s development, implementing the moratorium on onshore gas extraction in January 2015. Pending further investigation into environmental impacts the moratorium has since been extended with UCG to undergo a separate assessment, led by Campbell Gemmel, a professor of environment research at the University of Glasgow.
A press release by the Scottish Government said: “Scotland’s moratorium into onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction was welcomed by both environmental campaigners and industry representatives. It will remain in place as the research and public consultation is undertaken”.
“The studies announced today constitute an extremely thorough and wide-ranging examination of the potential impacts of unconventional oil and gas and underlines the Scottish Government policy of taking a precautionary, robust and evidence-based approach to this technology in stark contrast to the gung-ho approach of the UK Government”
MSP and Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie welcomed the news, saying “Today’s announcement shows that consistent pressure on ministers from Greens, campaigners, communities and even members of the SNP is working. Ministers previously said underground coal gasification was out of their hands but they’ve done the right thing by bringing it into the moratorium”.
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