Independent Review of Underground Coal Gasification - Report

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

Introductory Statement

I do not receive any income from nor have any interests in the Unconventional or Conventional Oil and Gas sector. This study was solely funded by the Scottish Government.

Also, by way of introductory scene setting, it is important to state that this is not a rigorous academic peer reviewed research publication or a report by a career academic or team. Nor, given the challenges in obtaining evidence, should it be considered and exhaustive review. I was approached in October 2015 and engaged early in 2016 to undertake a review of UCG by late summer 2016. This is a report of that review conducted involving the assembly and consideration of available literature, a series of interviews with key stakeholders and advisors and the assessment of a number of submissions over a period of c.48 days work. These elements were taken together to provide a broad overview of UCG , set against the issues and requirements laid out in the brief. Errors and misinterpretations are my own. But I have sought to consider the range of relevant factors relating to the potential exploitation of UCG and offer Scottish Government my findings, observations and recommendations based on my own judgements and interpretation of the materials considered, from this country and from relevant projects and publications worldwide. The judgements made come from 30 years spent in executive and non-executive positions in public bodies concerned with the space between industry, environment and community. I have worked in a range of roles in economic development, community regeneration and environment policy and its implementation. I was in the period 2001-14 working in environment regulation where I led first the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and then the South Australian Environment Protection Authority.

I am a consulting partner at Canopus Scotland, Professor of Environment Research, Policy, Regulation and Governance in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Glasgow and Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia.


I am extremely grateful to a wide range of people and institutions for their help and that includes all interviewees, all of those who gave me their time and insights and also those who supplied or shared useful and connected materials. Particular thanks go to, Alison Monaghan at BGS , Simon Reed and his team at the Coal Authority, Andrew Nunn at Cluff Natural Resources, the team at FoE Scotland, Prof. Alex Russell at Robert Gordon University, Prof. Stuart Haszeldene at Edinburgh, Prof. Andrew Watterson at Stirling University, Prof. Zoe Shipton at Strathclyde University and Prof. Paul Younger at Glasgow as well as Mark Gifford at the NSW EPA for their time and access to very useful materials connected to their own research and responsibilities.

I would also thank the project leads in Scottish Government especially for their support and many interactions during the process. Thanks too to the Scottish Government Library and especially to Lesley Oliver at the Geology Shop/Library at BGS at Lyell House.

My thanks as ever to Avril for direct and indirect support.


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