Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian and a leading campaigner against unconventional gas extraction, is challenging coal gasification firm Cluff over their claim that "it is neither necessary, nor in the public interest" to examine the risks of their plans.
Cluff wrote to all MSPs before yesterday's announcement that their plans for drilling under the Forth are on hold, and today Alison replied, challenging the company's views.
Scottish Green MSPs Patrick Harvie and Alison Johnstone have been campaigning against unconventional gas extraction since the 2011 election. Alison led Holyrood’s first debate on the issue in May 2014, proposing a ban. All other parties voted against it.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“Before Cluff got cold feet and announced a delay in their plans, they wrote to all MSPs as part of a charm offensive. Scottish Greens support the many community groups around the Forth who have made their opposition to coal gasification clear, and I have written back to Cluff challenging their claims.
"Cluff have attempted to downplay coal gas disasters elsewhere but I believe we must look at where things have gone wrong to help us understand the risks. We know of serious problems in Australia, resulting in widespread contamination of land. We know investigators were hospitalised with suspected gas poisoning during soil testing.
"It is therefore essential that Cluff lays out in detail the safety record of its projects rather than dismissing concerns out of hand. Cluff also choose to ignore the fact that we already have far more fossil fuels than we can burn if we want to limit climate change.
"Scotland is in a privileged position to end its reliance on fossil fuels earlier than other countries and create many more jobs by investing in sectors such as renewables, green chemistry, home insulation and forestry.
"In the meantime the Scottish Government must come off the fence, extend their temporary fracking moratorium to include coal gasification given it requires onshore infrastructure and turn it into a permanent ban, to protect our communities, our economy and our climate."
UPDATE (2/9/15): Response from Cluff Natural Resources to Alison