Community Screening

Thursday 2nd May

The Plough Hotel, Stenhousemuir

7.30- 9.30pm Free admission 
Four Corners – Investigative Journalism
Transmitted in Australia on ABC1 on Monday 1st April 2013. Gas Leak raises concerns about the Coal Bed Methane industry (known as coal seam gas industry in Australia) on prime time television.
This community screening is an opportunity to hear the evidence from Australia and discuss the lessons for the Scottish context with other local residents.


A plague o' both your houses

In March 2013 two community meetings were held to address concerns about the Dart Energy planning application for 14 Coal Bed Methane well sites within Falkirk and Stirling Council area. Local residents – most of whom will be directly impacted if the wells go ahead – discussed ‘visions’, positive and negative, of their communities’ future.

During the discussions two stories summed up the social, as well as the environmental, injustice of the proposed wells. Both stories relate to the importance of people's homes and how a threat to your home is a direct threat to your family, your standard of living and your well being.

"Who is going to buy a house on a well line?" - a local man voiced concern about future house prices.

One resident described living in his dream home which, "ticked all the boxes" for everything he had aspired to in a family home. But he had been keeping up to date with the planning concerns and believed that, despite community efforts, the wells would be given permission. He was going to cut his losses and try and sell his house before the final planning decision, believing he would lose more money if he waited until the wells are up and running and the communities’ fears are realised: "Me and the wife are putting our house on the market and will take our chances".

Seated not far away, a young woman spoke about being brought up in Grangemouth, an industrial town on the fenceline of the petrochemical industry, 4 miles from where she lives now. She chose her current home because she wanted to bring up her family in a healthier environment. Having moved to Larbert very recently, she believed she was moving to a desirable, up and coming area, and her new house had a view of fields and hills. But within 2 weeks of moving into this new home she received a 20 metre neighbourhood notice for the DART planning application. It turns out she lives very close indeed to an intended drilling site she know nothing about. The more she hears about the planned development the more she feels she has made a mistake in her choice of area. Having just moved, she is not in a financial position to move again. Instead of being able to settle into her new home, she already feels a sense of being trapped and misled.

This is an insight into the considerations of just two families within the local community awaiting the outcome of the DART application. There are many more such stories. A final decision has been delayed to allow Falkirk council to commission its own research into aspects of the planning application, and the Community awaits the date of a Planning Hearing. It is hoped this Hearing will allow local people’s concerns to be heard alongside the planning and scientific evidence. The outcome of the community’s ‘visioning exercise’ was a well-thought-through objection to the DART application from which it is hoped the wider community can learn. If others sign up, this may provide a mandate for an alternative future without CBM wells on the near horizon.

Norman Philip
co-ordinator Friends of the Earth Falkirk

Follow to local residents facebook page for updates on the situation at:www.facebook.com/FAUG.PEDL133