Campaigners lose latest fracking legal challenge

Environmental campaigners have lost a High Court challenge over the Little Plumpton fracking site.

Sunday, 13th January 2019, 12:21 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th January 2019, 12:24 pm
The fracking site at Little Plumpton

Friends of the Earth had challenged a permit variation granted by the Environment Agency to shale gas company Cuadrilla.

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Both Cuadrilla and the Environment Agency contested the claim.

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The fracking site at Little Plumpton

The Little Plumpton site has been the centre of long-running protests since fracking resumed at the site last year.

Operations have been temporarily halted on numerous occasions by Cuadrilla due to earth tremors, the largest of which measured 1.5 on the Richter scale.

On Friday, Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting in the High Court in London, rejected the challenge.

He ruled there were no 'substantial changes' to the permit and dismissed Friends of the Earth's challenge.

Fracking resumed at the site last year

Cuadrilla welcomed the ruling.

Friends of the Earth said it was "disappointed" but vowed to continue monitoring fracking at Little Plumpton.

They want Cuadrilla to employ a technique called 'flowback', arguing it results in less waste and uses less fresh water.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “We’re obviously disappointed that the judge has not upheld our challenge.

Campaigners, including fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, has staged protest outside the Little Plumpton site

"However we will continue to scrutinise the fracking industry closely. The government claims that fracking has gold standard regulation but there are many examples of shortcomings in the actual regulations and problems in their implementation.

“With scientists warning that there is little time left to get on top of climate change, the government is backing the wrong horse in supporting fracking. The future lies in clean, renewable energy”

Mark Lappin, Technical Director at Cuadrilla, said: “We welcome this clear and comprehensive judgment in favour of the Environment Agency and our own interpretation of how the permit variation process should work.

“We will continue to operate within the permits and regulations in place at our shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, Blackpool.

“We have completed hydraulic fracturing operations at this well for now and have been testing flow potential since the start of the year. So far we have had water and gas flowing back to the surface which is encouraging and we plan to continue this testing of the potential during the weeks ahead.”