UK fracking permits can consider climate change / Key aspects of rules “unlawful” / Advocacy group Talk Fracking wins case against the government
Local councils in England seeking to deny permits for shale gas exploration on environmental grounds have not had the best cards up to now, as the national planning authority has consistently overruled them. Some local authorities, weary of the fight, have reversed their positions. A decision this month by the High Court for England and Wales has the potential to reshuffle the deck. In the ruling in a case brought by UK anti-fracking group Talk Fracking (, justice Ian Dove ordered the national government to overhaul parts of its pro-shale planning policy, saying it is “flawed” and the public consultation process “unlawful.”

The judge said London should have reviewed scientific evidence, including the effects of fracking on climate change, in rewriting policy in 2018; however, it had not considered any data published after 2015. As the campaign group noted, national authorities continued to advise councils not to consider environmental impact when deciding on drilling applications; instead, they were encouraged to recognise the benefits of shale and facilitate its extraction.

Key to the court’s decision was evidence submitted by Talk Fracking, which is funded by Joseph Corré, son of UK fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. The 2017 “Mobbs Report” commissioned by the group is said to have debunked the British claim that shale gas would help facilitate the transition to a renewable energy future while meeting climate change targets. Instead, with fracking taking place, the UK would fall short of its obligations under the Paris climate agreement, the report says.

Although UK fracking policy is national, it has no relevance in Scotland or Wales, as the devolved regional governments respectively have imposed a moratorium on shale exploration. The court has invited national planners to submit proposals for revising shale policy. In May 2019, the courts will hear another challenge brought by Corré and other anti-fracking campaigners against an injunction granted to Ineos Shale, UK subsidiary of petrochemicals giant Ineos (Rolle / Switzerland;, in 2017. This prohibits “unlawful acts” by protestors at the company’s shale gas exploration sites – see of 16.08.2017. Among other complaints, the campaigners say it is too wide ranging and also undemocratic.
19.03.2019 [242037-0]
Published on 19.03.2019

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