Public meeting on fracking organised

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 21:38 on 6 February 2015

Fracking    Environment

Councillor Paddy Hogg will speak at the meeting. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.

MEMBERS of the public are been inviting along to a special public meeting, later this month, that will see the issue of fracking and unconventional gas extraction rear its ugly head once more.

Organisers from the Halt Unconventional Gas Extraction in Cumbernauld and surrounding areas group say the public meeting will aim to “bring the topic of fracking to the attention of local residents”.

Fracking is a process whereby a 1,200metre borehole is drilled out, before the rock core well under ground level is fractured, causing ‘fissures’, into which sand and high pressure water is injected so that the cracks open and that the gas can rise to the top of the borehole, for extraction.

The process has been widely criticised by its opponents, through – some of whom claim hydraulic fracturing can cause earthquakes, poison water supplies and pollute the atmosphere. 

The latest public meeting into the matter will be attended by a number of leading Scottish academics, who will discuss the processing of hydraulic fracturing, and aim to educate people about the dangers of the process, as opposition campaigners see it.

Alison and Jim Doyle from the group 'Concerned Communities of Falkirk'; Professor Andrew Watterson, of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, at the School of Health Sciences, at the University of Stirling; Professor John Robertson, a lecturer in Media Politics at the University of the West of Scotland; and, Cumbernauld South SNP Councillor Paddy Hogg have all been lined up for the event.

“Cumbernauld’s Halt Unconventional Gas Extraction (HUGE) group are holding a public meeting on the February 26, between 7pm and 9pm, in Greenfaulds High School,” a spokesperson for the HUGE group explained to Cumbernauld Media.

“The meeting has been organised so that we can bring the issue of fracking to the attention of more local residents.

“Our meeting on February 26 will be our second meeting on the matter, with our last meeting being extremely well attended and very informative,” the spokesperson explained to us.

The meeting later this month comes after Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism announced he was implementing “a moratorium on the granting of planning consents for all unconventional oil and gas developments, including fracking”, on January 28.

As part of his ten-minute speech before the Scottish Parliament on January 28, Mr Ewing announced he had written to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, to ask that the UK Government doesn’t issue any more licenses in Scotland.

He explained also that Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities & Pensioners’ Rights would take forward work to strengthen planning guidance, while Dr Aileen McLeod, the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform would work in tandem with Mr Neil to tighten the environmental regulation that is in place through the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

A full public health impact assessment and a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction were also announced at the time – although more detail is yet to be announced.

The HUGE spokesperson added: “We will have a number speakers in attendance at our meeting – one of whom will talk about the community-led response in Airth to the unconventional gas extraction industry, and how it affected them. Another of our speakers will be talking about the health implications of this highly dangerous method of gas extraction, while we will also welcome a speaker who will explain about how the media does, or does not, properly inform all the necessary stakeholders (including the public) of the issues.

“Additionally, we will also have a local SNP councillor along, while we’ll discuss the Scottish Government’s moratorium on fracking; we will explain what this is, and explain who has campaigned along with the group to ultimately ban fracking. There will be a Q&A session during the meeting so people can get the answers they are looking for. 

“This meeting has taken one month to plan, and all members of the public are welcome to attend and listen to our excellent speakers – all of whom we’re grateful to for coming along.”

Explaining why the HUGE group is against unconventional gas extraction, the group’s spokesperson said: “The HUGE group are firmly against unconventional gas extraction because we believe it to be a short term solution to our energy needs, with real risks to health and house prices. In our aim to get these dangerous activities banned completely, we work in conjunction with a number of other anti-fracking groups across Scotland and the UK.

“HUGE recently, along with a local councillor fought to stop drilling in the Cumbernauld area, and the end result was that Scottish Water withdrew their permission for the company to drill on their land. We need to maintain this stance, to protect our environment – not just for us, but for everybody, and for the generations to come after us. 

“We need to develop a cleaner, greener energy to meet our needs. Scotland already has the ability and the capacity to do this with our abundance of natural resources, including wind, solar, and wave power. Using these resources means that we will lower our carbon footprint and protect our most basic natural resource – water. Therefore, we would urge any interested local residents to come along to our meeting, get their questions answered and get informed.”

The meeting will take place at Greenfaulds High School, between 7pm and 9pm on Thursday 26th February 2015.