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.”