Environmentalists have hailed the Scottish Government's block on underground coal gasification (UCG) as a "victory for people power".

Green charities urged ministers to take a similar decision when it comes to unconventional oil and gas, including fracking, which is subject to a separate moratorium.

Friends of the Earth Scotland said the UCG ban was a "hugely important turning point in the fight against climate change".

Head of campaigns Mary Church said: "This is a victory for people power.

"Setting coal seams alight under two of our major firths was always a reckless idea and today the Government has listened to communities and put an end to this risky industry.

"Today's announcement will come as a huge relief to communities around the Forth and Solway firths faced with this highly experimental technology, and give heart to communities threatened by other intrusive new fossil fuels.

"We look forward to the Scottish Government acting swiftly to ban shale gas fracking and coalbed methane drilling once it has finished its review.

"Today's UCG decision is the first time the Scottish Government has said no to more fossil fuel extraction and marks a hugely important turning point in the fight against climate change."

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "This decision is great news for the environment and a victory for those who have fought tirelessly to resist these climate-trashing schemes.

"In the coming months we hope Scottish ministers will similarly reject plans to frack for gas. The science is clear - to protect our climate the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned.

"Pursuing new fossil fuels would be a distraction from the renewables revolution already under way in Scotland.

"With well over half of our electricity now coming from clean renewable sources, we should be focusing on expanding renewables in to other sectors such as heat and transport.

"We hope this decision sends a signal globally that Scotland is embracing the shift to a zero carbon future and is determined to continue to be a climate change leader."

Lloyd Austin, head of conservation policy at RSPB Scotland, said: "We are at a critical time in Scotland where we need to move to sustainable, low carbon energy and at the same time protect our natural environment, which is under ever-increasing pressure.

"Our understanding of the potential impacts of UCG is still limited.

"Given sites being investigated in the Firth of Forth include some of our most important places for marine wildlife including internationally protected seabirds, we welcome that the Scottish Government has taken a precautionary approach, resisted pressures to rush ahead with this technology and put the protection of the environment and local communities first."