The charming Algy Cluff, founder of Cluff Natural Resources, has announced that the underground coal gasification (UCG) plans he has for the Firth of Forth will take place in a “heavily industrialised” area, and that the traffic and noise generated by the process will “become an irrelevance”.
Try telling that to the dolphins, seals, puffins, gannets, fish and other wildlife that inhabit the sea.
Tell that to the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the freshness of the waters and the vitality of the catches they haul in.
Indeed, tell that to the residents of the beautiful Kingdom of Fife and the garden of Scotland, East Lothian. The tankers and lorries necessary for transporting water and waste will hardly be deemed an “irrelevance” on the winding country lanes; nor will the flaring wells that will so prettily light the Forth at night...
Mr Cluff also claims that UCG is an “established” process, but it has never – anywhere in the world – been practised offshore. UCG in the Forth will be an experiment, a huge industrial experiment performed in Scottish seas, well within sight, sound and smell of communities. The Firth of Forth will be a gigantic laboratory, and those living along its shores will be guinea pigs.
But God forbid you contradict Mr Cluff’s claims. Anti-fracking campaigners have seen a very cynical battle of semantics started by the frackers’ expensive PR machine – we are regularly called militants, extremists, even terrorists. This is a properly underhand move in an era when the word “extremist” is supposed to strike terror in the minds of civilised folk.
The simple fact is there are more fossil fuels than we can burn if we want to avoid global climate catastrophe. Would you rather use less, demand less, waste less, and bequeath a clean planet to your children? Or would you rather persist with the belief that money matters, that “stuff” is important, and be responsible for catastrophic climate change, population displacement, starvation, poverty?
It is the smug assumptions of the fracking industry that will be its downfall – its ignorance of the determinedly clean, green evolution taking place in this country.
We are not all thinking in the short term – we can see beyond the money and the politics.
We want to see developments by and for communities, not ones imposed by industry and a government apparently hypnotised by fossil fuels. And Scotland is still, after all, a democracy.
Isla Aitken is a member of No Fracking NB (North Berwick)