A public inquiry is under way into an energy company's plans to drill for gas in central Scotland.

The Coal Bed Methane development at Airth near Falkirk would see Dart Energy release natural gas from deep coal seams by pumping out water.

The proposals include the drilling of 22 wells, and they have been met with local objections.

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Australian firm Dart asked Scottish ministers to rule on its plans and a panel began hearing evidence at the Inchyra Hotel near Polmont yesterday.

Friends of the Earth said Scotland had abundant renewable energy sources and did not need what it described as "risky new gas".

Dart said that, if approved, gas would be delivered into the national grid.