The St Fergus Coastal Environment Committee advises on the conservation of the environment in relation to development in the area. The committee is made up of members of Aberbeenshire Council, gas companies and independent environmental scientists. The committee provides ongoing scientific monitoring and guidance. A potential conflict of interest is explored as the committee is funded by the gas companies, which raises the question of whether the committee's findings are truly independent. The gas companies use information from the committee to ensure they have good relationships with local people. When the gas companies leave the pipelines are likely to remain but will first be made safe. This is believed to be the best way to keep disruption of the environment to a minimum.

First broadcast:
17 October 2007

Discuss the impact of gas companies and other big businesses on local environment and communities. How is this impact assessed and who by? The example shown raises an issue of partiality in environmental monitoring so students should consider what checks and balances can be put in place to ensure that correct procedure is followed and the environment genuinely protected. Use as a stimulus for discussion of the lifecycle of an industry. Whose place is it to ensure that decommissioning is properly carried out, and who foots the bill if there are any problems once a company has moved on?