March date for legal challenges to ministerial ruling on Cuadrilla fracking site



Preston New Road. Photo: Ami Roberts

Legal challenges to a ministerial ruling giving the go ahead to Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire will be heard next month (March).

An order issued today by the High Court has listed the case for three days, starting on 15 March 2017. The court had previously agreed to hear the case in Manchester.

The two challenges have been brought against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, by Preston New Road Action Group and Gayzer Frackman.

On 6 October 2016, Mr Javid announced he was granting planning permission to Cuadrilla for drilling, fracking and testing up to four shale gas wells at the Preston New Road site. His decision overruled the refusal of planning permission by Lancashire County Council in June 2015. But Mr Javid followed the recommendation of the planning inspector at a public inquiry earlier in 2016.


Today’s order by Mr Justice Dove said the challenges would be dealt with as a rolled-up hearing. This means the judge will decide on whether the challenge should go ahead and the substance of the case at the same hearing.

He confirmed that the challenge by Mr Frackman would be dealt with under the Aarhus Convention. This means his costs, if his challenge failed, would be capped at £5,000.

Roseacre Wood

The order also referred to a third case: a challenge by a Roseacre resident to Mr Javid’s decision to reopen the public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s other site at Roseacre Wood. The planning inspector had recommended refusal of this scheme on highway safety grounds. But Mr Javid said Cuadrilla should be given another chance to present evidence on traffic issues.

Mr Justice Dove said he was minded to list this case immediately after the completion of the Preston New Road challenges.

“There is a clear interest in making the best use of court resources and taking the opportunity given the commonality of most counsel in the case to have the heard case heard at that time.”

He said he would make a decision on the listing of this case after receiving submissions by the afternoon of Thursday 23 February 2017.

Preston New Road comment

A spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group said:

“We are pleased to confirm that Preston New Road Action Group now has a court date of 15th March, for our case against the Secretary of State.

“The stance by Sajid Javid to overturn Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse Cuadrilla is not democracy in action: it is a top-down abuse of power to facilitate a powerful corporation over a community’s wishes.

“We believe it is fundamentally wrong that the Secretary of State, who is not local, does not represent us nor has been present during any of planning inquiries or hearings for the last three years, has intervened in favour of Cuadrilla.

“Over 100,000 people wrote letters of objection to this fracking application. Our parish council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council rejected this application. They had a duty of care to local residents and they fulfilled that duty. They carefully determined that the risks of this industry far outweighed any benefits. Lancashire very loudly, said no.

“The scientific evidence and testimonies presented by our community and expert witnesses clearly demonstrated harm from noise, risk to the environment and our health, with unmitigable waste management issues. Cuadrilla failed to answer adequately on any of these topics. There is no way they can safely reduce the harm or indeed the dismantling of our basic right to breathe clean air and enjoy the peaceful environment of their homes.

“300 elderly residents aged 60-90 will be within 1000 metres of this site, some within a few hundred metres proximity. It will operate noisily in a rural area seven days a week, 24 hours a day and pump out methane gas into our environment for 90 days at a time.

“We find this decision entirely unacceptable, fundamentally flawed and we seek to demonstrate this within a court setting.”

More details

Manchester to hear all legal challenges to Cuadrilla fracking rulings – against government wishes

Climate change becomes fracking’s legal battle ground

This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

46 replies »

  1. Hooray a court date finally.
    So our man Frackman has only managed to generate shy of half his funding goal after 2….yes 2 funding rounds.
    He has made a catastrophic legal error though so I would hold onto your cash.

  2. “The scientific evidence and testimonies presented by our community and expert witnesses clearly demonstrated harm from noise, risk to the environment and our health, with unmitigable waste management issues. Cuadrilla failed to answer adequately on any of these topics. There is no way they can safely reduce the harm or indeed the dismantling of our basic right to breathe clean air and enjoy the peaceful environment of their homes.”

    Just read that for yourself once or twice and think about it. This is the meat of the case against Cuadrilla? They claim that a weight of scientific evidence demonstrates harm to health, YET THEY CANNOT PROVIDE A SINGLE OUNCE OF PROOF. If the ASA can see through these people, and the EPA, and the Royal Academy, and the RAE, and the National Academy, and so many other independent governmental bodies, they don’t have a chance of winning. Not even a chance, unless the judge has a bout of temporary insanity just as he rules.

    Justice Dove is obviously trying to speed things along. He knows that the main purpose of these legal actions is to delay and obstruct and that they have no merit. So, as they say here in the States, “let’s get ‘er done!”

    Best of luck to Gayzer and Hobby Hobson. May the best argument win! ;o)


      • Jack, do you honestly believe that proves anything? The SAB had problems with including that language because they thought that the data was incomplete. This does not change the fact that they did not find any evidence of widespread water pollution from fracking.

        So, again, please find one piece of evidence that proves systemic harm from fracking.

        There’s a reason no one can do this, Jack. Don’t feel bad about not being able to carry the weight on your own. The EPA tried for 5 years to prove it and could not.

        • hballpeenyahoocom,
          EVEN with there budgets severely cut, restrictions as to what, where and when they could do testing and extreme pressure from a government that is far to cosy with the fracking industry.

          The US EPA still found evidence of water contamination.

          It’s ALL there in the above links.

          • Of course they did, Jack. No one has tried to say otherwise. But these were one-off events, accidents. This is why the head of the EPA said on live TV that, “the overall incidence of impacts is low.”

            Check your facts, Jack. Read the report rather than just the propaganda put out by anti-frack sites!

            • LOW, maybe, possibly are all nice words used to try and spin safe levels .

              BUT where is the bench mark for gauging what is an acceptable risk in this industry ??

              • Are you trying to say that an industry that supplies 2/3 of the natural gas that this country consumes, should be closed down because it has had a small number of accidents, Jack? Are you prepared to close down just about every other heavy industry in the world? What would you do about all of the people who would lose their lives as a result of the higher energy costs? What would you do for the hundreds of thousands who would lose their jobs?

                I guess the fact that you would offer such a solution says it all, doesn’t it? And the anti-frack groups bristled at being called extremists!

            • hballpeenyahoocom, thank you for bringing the topic of risks forward.

              You say the risks are, quote ” LOW ”
              and that, quote ” they did not find any evidence of widespread water pollution ”

              LET’S ALONE, just take the state of Pennslyvania.
              4000 violations reported
              6 million in fines and as we know, the fines given to these companies are embarrassingly low. That’s a lot of prosecutions.

              I QUOTE,
              The implications of the data presented above are truly harrowing. Pennsylvania, alone, has over 7,700 active wells in use at present. Over 4,000 violations have been reported, and over 6 million in fines paid out thus far. The operation of these Pennyslvania wells require about 42 billion gallons of water, and according to the figures above, would together produce between 1.4 and 6 billion gallons of flow back wastewater.

              Despite the massive scale of toxic pollution generated by the fracking industry, they have been highly successful in deceiving the public by calling its product “natural gas” — a typical green-washing technique.

              It’s NOT looking good is it ??


              • Oh, quite the contrary Jackladdie. It’s looking quite good in fact. Fracking supplies 2/3 of our needs in this country and we are very happy with the low prices we pay as a result. We’re also very pleased that the US has made much more progress in decreasing GHG emissions than most any industrialized nation due to its reliance on fracking. It’s looking awesome!

                Violations and fines? Get serious, Jack. No one has ever represented that oil and gas operators have never made a mistake. Trucking operators get several thousand violations and fines every day. So?


                You’ve got nothing my friend! Just a whole lot of hot air propaganda! LOL

    • Thank you for your good wishes my anonymous little chum, but as usual your grasp of facts from 4,000 miles away is tenuous to say the least.

      While, like you, I wish PNRAG every success in their JR it is they not me, who are bringing their action. Do try to keep up Peeny!

      And beware the Dove from above. Remember Reeves and Mortimer? Oh no you won’t will you?

        • hballpeenyahoocom , it’s great to hear that you are enjoying lower energy bills in the US.

          For us here at the other side of the pond, it has already been confirmed that our energy bills will more than likely NOT be reduced by fracking.
          That being said, maybe a few of the very elite will get even richer, but for Joe public, sadly all they will get is a toxic legacy.

          Moving on to violations ,
          4000 + violations, WOW that’s a serious amount.
          You do yourself no credit trying to imply that these may be nothing more than minor traffic violations ( like a faulty tail lamp ). It truly is laughable

          4000 + It’s difficult for anyone to comprehend.

          I have shown you a long and comprehensive list of professors, doctors, scientists and engineers from some of the world’s leading and most respected organisations who are all screaming out about the serious dangers of fracking. You brushed them aside, simply dismissing them all. I’m still waiting for YOU to show one shred of evidence to substantiate your stance on the matter.
          Until such time I will keep on presenting this long list.

          • So, laddie, no one has confirmed anything yet have they? But what’s another misleading statement from an anti-fracker? Sheesh, there have been so many! Fracking can lower energy bills – whether it does or not is TBD and will depend on a number of different variables. But the fact remains that energy must come from somewhere to fill the gap in the UK’s energy supply. If it is filled with wind or solar, prices are going to go up quite a bit. Gas looks like the least expensive alternative (assuming that it is viable) and that’s good news for all of those who live in fuel poverty.

  3. I think they will lose PNR case and win Rosacre. And so they los their cash but not much only £5000 unlike many investors in iGas AJL San Leon and other smal shale gas company who lost alot more of their investments when it sank.

    • Small MCap investing is always exceptionally risky and not for feint hearted. Occasionally there are corkers but a lot of conkers too!

  4. TW-how about the “investors” who sunk their cash into Barclays and Centrica to make money out of shale gas? Did that happen?? I am sure even Google can give you a bit more knowledge about AJL and the Australian coal industry if you wanted to look. I really would not follow Refracktions strange world of economics, where he thinks someone would invest in AJL to access the fracking industry when their core business is tied to the Australian mining industry. (It would be like investing in Lloyds Bank to get a chunk of the car leasing sector.)Just look up what Rio Tinto are doing reference the coal business in Australia, it may give a clue.
    Like many, I made modest investments in the past, including Igas, and like many, made a modest return. The investment I had in Igas is now elsewhere in gas/oil, and is up over 60% (tax free). Maybe, one day, it will be moved back into Igas. You make a very basic mistake if you think that a declining share price automatically means everyone has lost money. Small MCap companies are usually the area for traders, not long term holders.

    It suits an agenda to say that people who are supporting test fracking in the UK do so for greedy capitalist motives. The reality is that most do so because they see it as a potential resource that can mitigate against the high cost of providing back up power to wind and solar (latest report says that is now £8 billion for the taxpayer to fund-and that will be peanuts when the next new nuclear sites require taxpayer capital in addition to high prices from energy produced.) £8 billion, the same figure that the NHS said they required extra from the taxpayer for their 5 year plan.

    • Martin. I fully agree with you view on this. Small cap stock are subject to traders speculation and rise and fall in their value can be manipulated by small daily volume of trade. UK shale investment is risky geologically and politically because green climate change policy is too ingrained in energy policy. What the public don’t foresee is energy security and price because they are comfortable with current measures but that could change overnight.
      Cuadrilla may turn out to be a dud and its investors AJL and Centrica and Riverstone would lose £200mil they spent or no big oil interested in developing it asset but would make sense to find out the potential

    • Martin – you scoff at the idea that “someone would invest in AJL to access the fracking industry when their core business is tied to the Australian mining industry” and yet you seem quite comfortable with the idea that people are investing in Centrica, a £13bn company which has just 160million earmarked for UK fracking, “to make money out of shale gas”. (And they haven’t actually invested all of that yet have they?)

      At least you are giving us a laugh I suppose.

  5. Ineos have £1 billion set aside for UK shale exploration. The money will not dry up unless it’s proven not a single penny of profit can be made and that’ll mean lots of exploratory wells. Far more than the camoflauged band of brothers can cope with.
    Your cause will die when no earthquakes or mass contamination of water happens.

    • Er so if they thought they could make 2p of profit they’d spend £1 billion GBK? You have indeed got to be kidding 😂

      Do be sensible!

      Mind you they saved a lot in tax to the UK exchequer by moving to Switzerland – about half a billlion according to reports ,so they can probably uses the cash that never went to the NHS, infrastructure building etc on gambling. Wonderful isn’t it?

  6. I would check what I stated refracktion! If you want to make up your own arguments, mirrors are good. Don’t change my text.

    “DID THAT HAPPEN??” Quite clear that is an example of irony, in the context it was made. “Like investing in Lloyds Bank to get a chunk of the car leasing sector.” Or the reference to Barclays? Were they not clues? I will not explain, Google it.

    And it is you who rudely accused a poster recently of commenting outside his area of expertise-(which was not edited.)

    Carry on laughing-hysterically.

    All this to try (and fail) to establish we are a bunch of capitalists, trying to make money. I have already advised you steer clear of economics, Ineos will not be so charitable as me, and they won’t be edited. (Ineos are privately owned, before you try and claim a financial motivation.)

    And reference your comment regarding Igas, you might just find some speculators will see that as a good gamble, especially if they have a concern about capital gains. You can set losses against capital gains is the explanation. So, share price may not be as relevant as you think it is. My +60% is higher still, from my earlier post. If it continues to climb I might have to be one of them, but looking at today’s Igas share price movement, I could be a little late. However, it could still be better than investing in any business linked to thermal coal, even with the huge requirement to manufacture solar panels in China using the filthy stuff. Or then, how about Australian companies involved with Lithium?

  7. Keep up refracktion! Why DID Ineos move their offices to Switzerland? And where are their offices NOW?

    “Gambling”?? Don’t think so, but if they did, I’ll pop into Ladbrooks with them any day (other facilities are available.) They seem to be pretty good at it.

    More fake news. Yet you are the first out there criticising the Telegraph?

  8. Yes they moved back to UK in December last year after half a decade of tax exile Paul.

    Martin – calm down – I didn’t say they hadn’t moved back – I just pointed out how much they didn’t pay in UK tax by moving away. With the greatest of respect you are one of the last people I’d take lessons on economics from on this comments page. I say one of because there is one other below you on the list 😉

    • John the tax issue really ? Do you use Amazon, Google, Facebook etc etc.
      You’ll find any large company exploiting the legal tax loopholes and as a businessman or even just someone that reads news you will know this already.
      I will actually agree with you that the tax issue as a whole is almost as bad as the UK propping up regimes in the likes of Qatar with gas imports.

      • Yes Peeny – the tax issue really. Its quite relevant given the industry’s supporters’ amazing claims that fracking will be going to pump in millions to save the NHS etc . They have a lot to make up.

        I’m surprised that you seem to be suggesting that because international trade and tax avoidance is often murky and unattractive, excusing still more murkiness and unattractiveness is OK.

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