Petrochemical firm Ineos has launched a legal challenge to the Scottish government’s effective ban on fracking. Ministers announced the prohibition in October 2017, and it was subsequently endorsed by a vote of MSPs. Ineos Shale has applied for a judicial review of the decision, citing “serious concerns” about its legitimacy. The Scottish government argues that it took a “careful and considered approach” while coming to the decision, with “detailed assessment of evidence”.
BBC 9th Jan 2018 read more »
Times 10th Jan 2018 read more »
Scotsman 9th Jan 2018 read more »
Telegraph 9th Jan 2018 read more »
The National 9th Jan 2018 read more »
Herald 9th Jan 2018 read more »
Friends of the Earth Scotland Head of Campaigns, Mary Church, said: “INEOS’s legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s ban on fracking reeks of desperation from an industry that is failing to get results anywhere in Scotland, the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Wherever fracking has been proposed it has been strongly opposed by local communities and subject to serious delays and mounting costs. “We are confident that the process to ban fracking was robust and fair, and the courts will find against INEOS. A two-year process looked at mountains of scientific evidence that spoke of the risks of the unconventional oil and gas industry to our environment, climate and people’s health. “There is overwhelming support from communities on the frontline of this industry, people the length and breadth of Scotland, and almost all the parties at Holyrood for this ban. In challenging this ban INEOS are attempting to overturn a democratic process that engaged tens of thousands of people across the country and found that 99% were opposed to the dirty industry. Sadly, given the companies tactics south of the border it’s little surprise that INEOS are taking this course of action. INEOS are no doubt taking this challenge to keep alive their hope of ever making any money out of this toxic industry.”
Drill or Drop 9th Jan 2018 read more »
Dr Keith Baker is a researcher in energy policy at Glasgow Caledonian University: The Scottish Government has taken the highly admirable approach of commissioning independent research and consulting extensively with the public on the risks, costs and benefits of fracking to the Scottish environment, economy, and society. The results of this work have shown, very clearly, that those costs and risks far outweigh the benefits, which are largely economic and, given the urgent need to manage the decline of the fossil fuel industry, also short term. If the Scottish Government is to meet its target of reducing national emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050, it will need to achieve a significant reduction in the use of all fossil fuels over the next decade, so it is absolutely right to conclude that allowing unconventional extraction is a major step in the wrong direction, and to use its devolved responsibilities for planning to legislate against the development of fracking sites. Whether or not fracking can be managed safely or not, and the jury is very much still out on this, is actually a lesser issue. On one hand this is simply because even if the risks are small, the impacts of risks such as groundwater contamination to other areas of the Scottish economy, such as tourism and the whisky industry, are easily high enough to justify applying the Precautionary Principle as a justification of the ban. As this is a cornerstone of European policymaking on science and technology, I would be surprised if a court would rule against such a justification, especially now France has also implemented a ban.
Herald 10th Jan 2018 read more »
When Paul Wheelhouse, the energy minister, announced plans to use the planning regulations to effectively ban fracking, he said he was doing so largely because the vast majority of responses to the government’s public consultation endorsed prohibition. In light of that public hostility, much of it organised by special interest groups, the government’s research, he said, “does not provide a strong enough basis from which to address these communities’ concerns”. This was a flimsy argument when it was advanced last year and time has done nothing to strengthen it. The expert panel appointed by the government concluded that, subject to proper and sensible regulation, there was little reason to suppose fracking could not be undertaken safely. That was in 2014, and no fresh evidence has been presented by the government that contradicts its own expert assessment. Ministers, of course, are free to change their minds. They are not free, however, to claim politics-based evidence-making is in fact science-based policy-making. Mr Wheelhouse all but admitted this change in parameters when he told parliament: “The people have spoken. The time has come to move on.” Be that as it may, leadership sometimes demands governments tell the people inconvenient truths. Moreover, the government’s attitude to energy is wildly inconsistent. On the one hand ministers demand the UK government does more to support the offshore oil and gas industry; on the other they decline to support onshore oil and gas when they have the opportunity. Offshore oil, the SNP argues, still has a bright future; onshore oil and gas should have no future. It is hard to fathom the logic underpinning this distinction and equally difficult to avoid the conclusion that this is an opportunity missed. As Scotland’s nuclear power stations at Hunterston and Torness near the end of their productive lives, new forms of energy production are going to be required. Renewables will and must play a large part in a cleaner, greener, future but they are not the only answer. Unconventionally extracted oil and gas could, and should, play a role as we continue to reduce our carbon footprint. As it is, the Grangemouth plant will continue to import fracked gas from the United States. It would be preferable, and greener, to exploit Scotland’s own reserves of onshore gas instead. Even if the government survives this legal challenge, the best that may be said is that it reached the wrong conclusion for the wron g reasons but retained the right to be so very mistaken.
Times 10th Jan 2018 read more »
Ineos, the owner of Scotland’s biggest industrial site at Grangemouth, is quite within its rights to mount a legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s decision to effectively ban fracking. If the move is unlawful as the company claims, a judge should rule accordingly and Holyrood may have to think again. However, given the level of public and political support for a ban, it is likely that parliament will come up with much the same answer in just a different form of words. During a lengthy consultation process, the SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens all came out against the controversial gas-extraction process, leaving only the Conservatives in favour. And, of 60,000 public submissions, 99 per cent were opposed.
Scotsman 10th Jan 2018 read more »
Fracking firm Cuadrilla has been given the go-ahead to explore for oil near a West Sussex village that was the site of the UK’s biggest anti-fracking protests. The approval came as another shale company said it was planning a legal challenge against Scotland’s fracking ban. Thousands of campaigners besieged Balcombe five years ago when Cuadrilla last tried to extract oil at the Lower Stumble site, igniting a national anti-fracking movement. The company eventually scrapped its plans but recently applied for planning permission to test how much oil will flow from an existing well. West Sussex county council’s planning committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the application, which opponents said defied local opinion.
Guardian 9th Jan 2018 read more »
Telegraph 9th Jan 2018 read more »