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Pollution threat exposed as inquiry opens

This news post is about 10 years old

A public inquiry has opened into Dart Energy's plans to drill for gas near Stirling as Sepa report reveals water in region could be contaminated.

One of Scotland’s best-known national drinks could be at risk of contamination because of toxic pollution of groundwater.

Bore holes drilled to extract gas by Dart Energy in the area where Irn Bru manufacturer AG Barrs operates could contaminate underground water sources as well as the surrounding countryside, according to a report from the Scottish Environment and Pollution Agency (SEPA).

Dart's poor comprehension of the local geology...could put groundwater in the area at risk - Mary Church

The report warns of a high risk of water pollution in the area from coal bed methane extraction, a type of unconventional gas production.

Dart has a licence from the Department of Energy and Climate Change giving it exclusive rights to explore unconventional gas production, which could include fracking, in a variety of areas of Scotland.

However the project faces strong local opposition and a public inquiry over its plans for 22 new bore holes at the Airth site, where it has already carried out some work, is now underway.

Although, AG Barr has said it no longer plans to use water from water wells near the site for the production of Irn Bru, objectors say the report highlights the dangers of the practice.

Mary Church, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland said Scotland could end up being the UK's guinea pigs if Dart's plans for commercial coal bed methane at Airth go ahead.

“Experts have warned that the company's poor comprehension of the local geology and inadequate modelling could put groundwater in the area at risk of contamination,” she said.

"The government needs to have a serious think about whether the dubious prize of unconventional gas is worth risking the reputation of some of the best known drinks in the world.

“It's not just much-loved Irn Bru at risk from this dirty industry, but a world famous food and drink industry, which forms a major part of Scotland's economy.”

The Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy and tourism committee last week called on ministers to set a minimum distance between unconventional gas developments and homes and sensitive industries.