Environmental campaigners are hopeful Scottish ministers will announce a ban on underground coal gasification (UGC) on Thursday.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse is due to give a statement on the issue at Holyrood following the submission of an independent review.

The Scottish Government imposed a moratorium on UGC in October last year to consider the impact of the technology, which campaigners say would cause significant environmental damage.

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Professor Campbell Gemmell, former chief executive of environmental agency Sepa, was tasked with carrying out an independent examination of the gas extraction technique.

Commenting ahead of Mr Wheelhouse's statement, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "The science is clear - to protect our climate the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned.

"We would fully expect any independent review to conclude precisely the same and for ministers to move to ban underground coal gasification.

"Burning coal underground should have no place in Scotland's energy future, which is why the Scottish Government was right to extend its moratorium on unconventional gas extraction to include underground coal gasification.

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"We hope the minister's announcement will turn the current moratorium into an outright ban."

Energy firm Cluff Natural Resources had been planning to use UCG to extract gas from under the Firth of Forth near Kincardine, Fife, and had secured licences from the UK Government's Coal Authority.

The company halted work on the project last year until the political debate on the issue was resolved.

UCG licences in the Firth of Forth and Solway Firth were also held by firm Five Quarter, although the company collapsed earlier this year.

Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns Mary Church said: "Setting coal seams under two of our major firths alight is a reckless idea and we urge the government to listen to communities, act decisively and make sure underground coal gasification never takes place in Scotland.

"The history of UCG is littered with contamination incidents, ground subsidence and industrial accidents around the world.

"The climate change consequences of permitting UCG are enormous and allowing the industry to take root would be completely out of step with Scotland's world-leading ambition to tackle global warming."

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A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Following the submission of Professor Campbell Gemmell's independent review of underground coal gasification, minister for business, innovation and energy Paul Wheelhouse will make a statement to update parliament on Thursday October 6."

Scottish Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said: "Anything short of an outright ban on underground coal gasification will be deemed as an environmental failure of the government to stand up to pressures from the oil and gas industry and instead fully commit itself to a renewables future.

"Communities, such as those around the Firth of Forth, will be watching (Thursday's) announcement with a degree of trepidation.

"Today will be a big day in the history of energy production in Scotland."

Scottish Conservative energy spokesman Alexander Burnett said: "It is more than a year since the SNP announced a moratorium on underground coal gasification and we are still no further on.

"As with fracking, underground coal has the potential to create thousands of jobs and boost the economy at a time when the North Sea oil and gas industry is in decline.

"However, the Scottish Government has chosen to ignore scientific evidence and has kept these difficult issues on the back burner for political reasons.

"The minister has the opportunity tomorrow to send a clear signal to investors that Scotland is open to business opportunities from new energy technologies."