Independent Review of Underground Coal Gasification - Report

An independent examination of the issues and evidence surrounding Underground Coal Gasification.

Annex 1: Terms of Reference

The Brief for this Review and Report

The broad context of the study was addressed by Scottish Government in announcements on 28 January 2015 and specifically on 8 October 2015 Correspondence from the Scottish Government, dated 20 January 2016 set out the background to this review and the basic terms of reference.


The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on Underground Coal Gasification ( UCG) on 8 October 2015. The moratorium ensures no development takes place while the Scottish Government listens to the views of communities and stakeholders, and collates evidence on the industry and its potential impact.

Ministers also announced that an independent advisor would lead a period of evidence-gathering and engagement to inform future work, analysis and decisions."

Purpose and objectives

The purpose of the review was to conduct an:

"independent and evidenced examination of the issues and evidence surrounding Underground Coal Gasification, drawing on published sources of information, expert input and community views to help the Scottish Government formulate future policies or actions."

The specific objectives of the review were to:

  • "develop a robust, well researched summary of potential UCG reserves in Scotland and their potential to contribute to Scottish industry and as a source of energy;
  • prepare a well-developed and evidenced description of potential environmental, health and regulatory issues associated with UCG; and
  • advise on whether the technology exists to allow for safe extraction and/or on specific gaps and actions. "

This is also set out at


Additionally, specific deliverables of the review were set out:

  • "Establishment of an advisory group and/or other stakeholder forum(s) to provide expert provide expert and stakeholder input on issues such as environmental issues and regulation, public health, spatial planning, climate strategy, community engagement, industry, geosciences, and energy.
  • A report outlining the findings of the review.
  • A non-technical summary of the findings.
  • A summary of (or web access to) information supporting the review. This could include reports referenced in the review, minutes of meetings and presentations given."

This correspondence also set out specifically the scope of the Final Report.

"The Final Report should provide evidence on:

  • The potential magnitude of UCG reserves in Scotland, their commercial potential and relevance to wider energy and industrial opportunities.
  • The key challenges, including environmental and public health, drawing on relevant international experiences.
  • The issues that are of most concern to communities and stakeholders.
  • Whether the current regulatory framework (Exploration, Planning, Environment, Marine, and Health and Safety) is adequate and sufficiently integrated, and any key gaps.
  • How the potential development of Underground Coal Gasification reserves in Scotland would sit with the Scottish Government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.
  • Whether the technology exists to allow for safe extraction, with particular reference to relevant international experience and lessons.
  • How to successfully and constructively engage with communities and environmental groups in a meaningful, constructive and objective basis on Underground Coal Gasification.

The report should clearly set out key findings and observations, including issues and gaps, and potential actions to address them."

The contract for the project was signed on February 16 2016.


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