I would like to start by congratulating all the hard-working campaigners who made their opinions very clear on underground coal gasification (UCG). It is because of the pressure these campaigners raised that the Government has eventually turned their moratorium into a full ban, and I am glad to see that there will be no UCG here in Scotland.
UCG would have had a massive impact on communities, particularly around the Firth of Forth. The Government commissioned a report into an independent examination of UCG which showed that there were substantial coal deposits that could be used as a potential for UCG. Central Scotland, Clackmannanshire and east Fife were some of the areas with the greatest reserves.
However, this report from Professor Gemmell of the University of Glasgow, also raised some of the key points that campaigners against UCG have made all along. Firstly, this technology has had very few examinations of the health or environmental impact. On top of this, where trials have taken place there has been environmental damages resulting in contaminations and exposure to toxins. It is clear that UCG is a dangerous process that could have many negative impacts for communities across Scotland.
I am glad that we finally have a clear position on UCG here in Scotland, Scottish Labour have been calling for this ban for some time, and I am glad the Government are now on board.