What does the Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe hope to achieve by serving a writ on the Scottish government over its effective ban on fracking? Precedents such as Imperial Tobacco’s challenge over the in-store display of cigarettes in 2012 show judges tend to side with government over big corporates in cases that hang on the technicalities of whether – and through which instruments – ministers can effect policy goals. In any case, a victory for the frackers in the Court of Session would almost certainly be appealed against in that court’s Inner House, and again at the Supreme Court. The process could take years, during which – unlike with the Scotch Whisky Association’s unsuccessful challenge over minimum alcohol pricing – no commercial advantage would be gained by Ineos in buying time in the courts. Even if successful, Ineos would still not have t he green light to proceed. with plans to recover Scotland’s “unconventionals”, but would have to submit its plans for its various schemes to the authorities. These submissions would almost certainly be called in by ministers and flatly refused, not least because of pressure from vocal locals. Ineos’s legal basis for calling the ban “seriously erroneous . . . unlawful . . . illegitimate . . . incompetent” and, for good measure, “a misuse of ministerial power” will be revealed shortly. It will be pored over by planning and public law anoraks anticipating a monumental legal battle, with environmental campaigners, scientists, unions, engineers and pro-business cheerleaders pulling up chairs.
Times 14th Jan 2018 read more »
An earthquake triggered by a giant Dutch gas field has rocked the UK’s gas market in a further threat to energy supplies that risks driving gas bills higher. The third-strongest quake in Dutch history registered 3.4 on the Richter scale last week and has unearthed fresh calls to wind down gas production in the Netherlands, which is Britain’s third largest source of gas imports. The giant Groningen gas field has helped make the Netherlands the most important gas market in Europe, but decades of drilling has riddled the northern Dutch town with earthquakes for years. The Dutch gas regulator has made an official appeal to ministers to make “substantial” gas production cuts in their response to the Groningen quake due next week.
Telegraph 13th Jan 2018 read more »