The chief executive of the FTSE-listed energy company which wants to produce coal-gas from the Forth estuary has blamed ‘internal party politics’ in the ruling SNP Scottish Government.
And Algy Cluff, Executive Chairman of Cluff Resources, said there is no need to waste time re-inventing the evidence-wheel as there is a decade of robust scientific research work carried out by the UK government.
A study published recently by the Scottish independent analysts Biggar Economics found, UCG could be worth £5.7 billion to the Scottish economy, creating nearly 5,000 jobs – including 1,000 in the Firth of Forth area alone.
Cluff said: “Given that the UK Government carried out a decade’s worth of research into the viability of UCG between 1999 and 2009, at considerable cost to the taxpayer, the evidence base for proceeding with the process already exists.
‘We would urge the Scottish Government to reach a positive conclusion on the potential of underground coal gasification (UCG) as quickly as possible, allowing Scotland to become a world leader in this exciting and lucrative area.
“There has been a prolonged period of political uncertainty around the Scottish Government’s position on UCG. Both next week’s SNP conference and next May’s Holyrood election have clearly played their part in creating this difficult political climate.
‘We have to date made significant investment in the UCG project at the Firth of Forth, and believe the benefits the UCG process would bring to Scotland in terms of jobs, economic value and energy security are too great to be missed.”
“It would also help address our looming energy gap – when Longannet closes next March it will take with it the capacity to generate more than three quarters of the electricity required by Scotland.
Cluff also indicated that he would work with Professor Campbell Gemmell, who has been appointed to lead the Scottish Government’s examination of the issues and evidence surrounding UCG.
However, Cluff remained non-committal on whether he would abandon his plans for Forth coal-gas entirely – the company recently announced it was putting its prospective council planning application ‘on hold’.
Cluff Natural Resources also owns coal-gas exploration licences in England.
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Map showing area of Cluff coal-gas licences in Forth estuary