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UK coal gasification gets planning go ahead

Despite the unknown impact on the environment and public health, the government has issued over 30 licenses allowing developers to plan coal gasification projects.

The process, which resembles shale fracking, has been criticised after a lack of UK commercial testing, so much so, that Scotland have already vetoed it pending a public health impact assessment up until Summer 2016.

Underground coal gasification (UCG), deemed “risky and experimental” by environmental campaigners, involves blasting underground coal still seams with enough heat to cause gas to be released and extracted through a separate well.

Small scale testing in the US has been met with controversy after claims of groundwater contamination and testing in Australia caused the sites to be shut down on the same proviso.

Hardly surprising then that Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing has banned the process then as he “underlines the Scottish government policy of taking a precautionary, robust and evidence-based approach to this technology in stark contrast to the gung-ho approach of the UK government.”

It seems he may be right in this case as the Conservatives are already advocates for shale gas exploration despite overwhelming public opposition. With regard to UCG, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) stated that it is still “working to better understand its potential as well as environmental and other implications”.

“Underground coal gasification could provide benefits to our energy mix but it has not yet been tested here on a commercial scale and is not currently in operation anywhere in the UK,” Decc added.

With these licences already issued, it remains to be seen how the DECC are planning on testing the environmental impacts of coal gasification.

Companies wishing to follow through with projects beyond the planning stage will need to satisfy the Coal Authority that all relevant permissions, environmental permits and the consent of the Health and Safety Executive are in place.

For more information on the UCG, fracking or for an instant business energy quote, give Business Juice a call on 0800 051 5770, email us at or use our contact form.

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