Fracking starts for first time as legal block fails
FRACKING FOR shale gas will begin in the UK for the first time today, despite a High Court challenge and amid a Yorkshire council’s plea for the controversial practice not to go ahead without planning permission.
Energy firm Cuadrilla has been cleared to commence hydraulic fracturing at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire after environmental campaigner Bob Dennett failed in a legal move to block the scheme.
It came as York Council prepared a response to the Government’s fracking consultations, in which it claims that the contentious nature of fracking means local authority scrutiny must remain to allow local communities to have their say.
A spokesperson for the council said: “Given the contentious nature of fracking, local communities should be able to have their say in whether this type of development takes place.
At a hearing in London yesterday, Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed Mr Dennett’s application for an injunction that would have prevented Cuadrilla from fracking the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well, pending his proposed legal challenge.
Mr Dennett claimed that Lancashire County Council’s emergency response planning and procedures at the site are inadequate, but the judge ruled that there was not a “serious issue” to be tried which would justify an interim order.
In a statement after the ruling, Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned. We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire.
“If commercially recoverable, this will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK.”
The judge had been told by Nathalie Lieven QC, for Cuadrilla, that her client “had been intending to start fracking” on Friday, but had “put that off to Saturday” in light of the late hearing.
She added that “every day, it costs Cuadrilla £94,000 to keep all that kit and equipment on site”.
Dismissing Mr Dennett’s application for an interim injunction, the judge said: “I do not consider that any of the grounds of challenge raise a serious issue to be tried.”
He said the site’s safety had been assessed by the Health and Safety Executive and there was “no evidence” to support Mr Dennett’s argument that it should have been categorised as posing more than a “medium risk”.
Outside the court, Mr Dennett vowed to challenge the decision, saying: “We have been advised that there are two clear errors in this judge’s determination that leave the way open for us now to take this to the Court of Appeal.”
Mark Jackson as a Viking, front, and Andy Deane as a Saxon at the Royal Armouries ahead of a weekend event uncovering legendary characters from history. The event at the museum in Leeds will include Danish axe-throwing and shield painting.