A senior lawyer has urged a judge to throw out a bid to overturn the Scottish government’s “ban” on fracking. James Mure, QC, told Lord Pentland yesterday that he should dismiss a case brought to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by the petrochemical companies Ineos and Reach CSG. The companies believe that the Scottish government has acted unlawfully in relation to its policy on fracking, a method of extracting gas and oil. The process involves liquid being injected underground at high pressure to force open existing fissures, allowing access to oil and gas reserves. The companies say that the government has converted a moratorium on gas extraction into an unlimited ban. The court was told they believe that a statement made to the Scottish parliament in October last year showed that government policy had changed. Ineos is seeking a judicial review of the government’s actions. It says that ministers at Holyrood have committed “very serious” errors in their decision-making process.
Times 9th May 2018 read more »
The Scottish Government has been accused of misleading voters over a ban on fracking in Scotland after a lawyer told a court that this was a “gloss” and ministers have “not yet adopted a position”. Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse announced in October that fracking was “effectively banned” as the government unveiled the results of a four-month consultation that found overwhelming opposition to the process. Nicola Sturgeon later told MSPs: “Fracking is banned in Scotland – end of story.” Grangemouth owner Ineos has challenged the ban at the Court of Session and a judicial review got under way today. The firm claims ministers acted “illegally” in announcing the ban last year. But advocate James Mure QC, for the Scottish Government, indicated there is no formal ban in place. “The concept of an effective ban is a gloss,” he said. “It is the language of a press statement. What they have done is to announce a preferred position on the issue. “They have not yet adopted a position. Any position which the government will take has to undergo an environmental and strategic assessment.”
Scotsman 8th May 2018 read more »
THE SNP Government has told Scotland’s highest court that it has not banned fracking, despite giving the impression that it had. Defending a legal action to overturn the “effective ban”, the government’s QC said ministers had used “the language of a press statement”, but had not yet adopted a firm position. Labour said it summed up the SNP’s preference for “spin before substance”. Labour MSP Claudia Beamish said: “This sums up perfectly the SNP government’s attitude – spin before substance. Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers told MSPs – and more importantly campaigners and communities – that Scottish towns and villages were no longer at risk from fracking and the environmental damage it can cause because they had banned it. “Now the government’s lawyer is saying the opposite – saying it is the language of a press release. SNP ministers need to explain this – fast. “It isn’t sustainable for the SNP to be saying one thing on their leaflets, website and in press releases and something else entirely in a courtroom.” A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government has made its preferred position clear and this is now subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment. It would be inappropriate to comment further during the judicial review process.”
Herald 9th May 2018 read more »