NEARLY 2000 people packed the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh in an anti-fracking protest.

The demonstration came after the Scottish Government decision to extend its fracking moratorium to cover unconventional gas extraction which involves burning coal underground before the gas is siphoned off. 

The Hands Over Our Forth demonstration against underground coal gasification (UCG) saw protesters link hands across the Forth Road Bridge.

A group of pipers and a choir brought music to the protest,  There were solidarity events staged in other parts of Britain, including Wirral, West Sussex, Lancashire and Cleveland in the north east of England.

And there was a video message of support from Forth River in Tasmania where there was a rally of their own.  

In it Bob Brown, the former parliamentary leader of the Australian Greens supports the Scots' cause, saying there had been three fracking trials in Queensland and "they have all been a disaster".

Demonstrators organising the latest Scots protest said while the moratorium was welcomed, they need to "keep shouting for a ban".


Organisers of the Forth protest said: "Let's make a huge statement and not allow our government to ignore the public outcry and opposition to these processes. "

Protesters taking part in the demo praised the turnout on social media.

Mark Bruce tweeted: "Beautiful day for Hands over the Forth cracking turn out."

Last week, energy minister Fergus Ewing said the halt on UCG plans – including sites under the Forth – would allow time for “full and careful consideration” of the potential impacts of the controversial process.

Mr Ewing said: “We should never close our minds to the potential opportunities for Scotland from new energy technologies – but we must also ensure that community, environmental and health concerns are all fully taken account of.”

Campaigners argue UCG is an unproven technology, considered far riskier than fracking, and could cause severe environmental damage, including poisonous leaks, ground water contamination, underground fires and subsidence.