DART Energy, the Australian-listed gas developer, has pledged not to use controversial “fracking” techniques at a site in Dumfriesshire.
The firm inherited the Canonbie licence last year after buying Greenpark Energy, which planned to use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, whereby high-pressure fluids would be injected into rocks to free coal-bed methane, a gas sold as a fuel.
Now Dart has promised not to frack, but will instead drill horizontally into the coal bed. The firm claims it has demonstrated that commercially viable levels of CBM can be produced without fracking.
It says it is working with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) to alter its permits so that it does not need, nor have licences to use, fracking for coal-bed methane.
Friends of the Earth Scotland campaigner Mary Church argued: “While it’s good news Dart is in talks with Sepa about giving up its fracking permits at Canonbie, there’s nothing to stop it applying again in the future.”
News of the move comes just weeks after Dart asked the Scottish Government to rule on its plans to drill for coal-bed methane at Airth, near Falkirk.
A report last week from the British Geological Survey said there is 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Environmentalists oppose fracking for shale gas, arguing it causes earthquakes, pollutes water and distracts from investment in renewable schemes.