MSP Joan McAlpine Requests Planning Permission Review for Coalbed Methane Extraction in Canonbie

Joan McAlpine has written to the Chief Executive of Dumfries & Galloway Council, Gavin Stevenson, asking that the planning permission for coalbed methane extraction in Canonbie be reviewed.

 Ms McAlpine decided to take action after attending meetings with Canonbie Community Council and Buccleuch Estates. Ms McAlpine said that the original planning permission, which was given several years ago by council officers without reference to elected members, was null and void. 

At a meeting in Langholm last Monday, Buccleuch Estates mining manager, Mark Oddy, admitted that the original planning permission, for both exploration and extraction, was for a completely different method and technique from what is now planned.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:

“Many of us at the meeting were surprised that Mr Oddy seemed to think there was no difficulty in the fact that the mining company which has been given the original planning permission, Greenpark Energy, had been bought over by DART Energy who planned to drill for coalbed methane using a completely different technology. He was unable to explain how the new technological methods would work, or even how much polluted water would be produced. It was very clear to me that this meant fresh planning permission should be sought.

“Very little was known about unconventional gas extraction when the original planning permission was granted. But now we are much more aware of the risks; indeed many European countries have placed a moratorium on this kind of extraction until more is known about the dangers. In Airth, Stirlingshire, the local council decided that DART Energy’s application for a similar scheme was beyond their technical competence and they have referred it to the Independent Reporter. It is nonsense that Dumfries & Galloway are taking the opposite approach with regard to Canonbie.”

Ms McAlpine said he hopes Mr Stevenson would instruct his officials to look again at the planning permission.

She added:

“People in Canonbie are very worried about this and seem to have very little to gain other than more holes all over their rural community. Councillors attending the Community Council meeting in Canonbie last month were not even aware that the planning permission covered extraction as well as testing. That makes a mockery of the democratic process and shows the system lacks transparency.”

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