Hundreds of people to hold hands in solidarity across the bridge to call for ban on underground coal gasification
A campaign group is to launch a protest in the middle of the Forth Road Bridge this weekend against plans to allow coal to be burned underneath the Firth of Forth
Our Forth plans to hold a demonstration on Sunday at 2pm which will see hundreds of people link hands along the Forth Road Bridge. The protest is calling on the Scottish Government to extend its freeze on fracking to cover offshore underground coal gasification (UCG).
The group has a petition with 8,000 signatures and had invited First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to attend to accept it – although that looks unlikely as the group is yet to receive a response.
It’s understood members of the newly-formed grassroots group SNP Members Against Unconventional Gas (SMAUG) will be in attendance at the demonstration, which has been planned to exert pressure on the SNP ahead of its party conference on 16 October, where it will consider a motion to extend the fracking ban to UCG.
UCG is a process where deep underground coal seams are drilled then flushed with oxygen and set on fire, so that gas can be extracted from them and then piped onshore.
It has proved controversial in the past with the practise resulting in the contamination of groundwater.
The consequences of a leak in the Forth are unthinkable – with risks to drinking water, marine life, and the tourism and fishing industries
Oil and gas company Cluff Natural Resources has three licences to explore UCG in the Firth of Forth, covering large areas around Kincardine and Largo Bay.
Maria Montinaro of Our Forth said: "We know that Cluff has been lobbying the Scottish Government hard on this issue, so we hope that the first minister will also come and listen to our views - and join us in appreciating the natural beauty of the Firth of Forth.
"UCG has a terrible track-record, with widespread examples of water and air pollution in Australia - the one place where it has been tried at any great scale.
"The Scottish Government did the right thing in putting a freeze on fracking in Scotland, but now is the time to make sure that risky undersea gas extraction is also put on hold. The consequences of a leak in the Forth are unthinkable – with risks to drinking water, marine life, and the tourism and fishing industries.
"The first minister should also consider Scotland's legally-binding climate change targets. The Scottish Government has repeatedly failed to achieve modest reductions in carbon emissions and allowing risky fossil fuel extraction will only make matters worse."
The SNP party conference is set to consider a motion calling for the Scottish Government to consider extending the two-year freeze on fracking to also cover UCG.