INEOS wins right to challenge the Scottish Government over fracking ban – and to sue for damages

Scottish Parliament 170531 Friends of the Earth Scotland

Protest in favour of a ban on fracking outside the Scottish Parliament, 31 May 2017. Photo: Friends of the Earth

Yesterday it was the one of the UK’s biggest conservation charities. Today it was a government. For the second day running, INEOS has won the right to bring a legal case to court.

Following the grant of leave to pursue the National Trust over land access for seismic testing, the company has now won the right to bring a judicial review against the Scottish Government.

INEOS, the UK’s biggest shale gas company, has joined Reach Coal Seam Gas in challenging the Scottish Government’s decision, announced last year, to not support the development of unconventional oil and gas, including fracking.

The companies also sought to sue the Scottish Government for damages for an alleged breach of their human rights and to challenge the 2015 decision on a temporary moratorium.

In a legal opinion, Lord Pentland, a judge at the Court of Sessions, gave permission to the two companies to take their case to a judicial review. The case is expected to be heard in May.

INEOS and Reach both argued that their business interests had been “adversely affected” by the Scottish Government decisions.

The Scottish Government argued that the companies’ case on the 2015 decision was time-barred because the three-month limit for a bringing a challenge had long expired. INEOS argued that the two decisions could not properly be separated.

In his ruling, Lord Pentland said:

“there may be some possible merit in the proposition that the 2015 and 2017 decisions are closely interlinked and that this is significant in the wider context of the issues that arise in the case.”

He granted permission for the companies’ whole case to go ahead.

“Fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland”

The Scottish Government announced on 3 October 2017 that it would not support unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. The Scottish Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, told the Scottish Parliament:

“Fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.”

He said more than 60,000 people had responded to a public consultation. 99% of them had opposed fracking. He said:

“In those communities that would be most affected there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time.

“And the research we have conducted does not provide a strong enough basis from which to adequately address those communities’ concerns.”

He also said he was concerned about insufficient evidence on health impacts and he drew attention to the conclusion in a  report by KPMG that under its central scenario unconventional oil and gas could represent 0.1% of Scottish GDP.

At the time, INEOS Operations Director, Tom Pickering, responded to the decision saying it “beggars belief”. He said:

“It is a sad day for those of us who believe in evidence-led decision making.

“The Scottish Government has turned its back on a potential manufacturing and jobs renaissance and lessened Scottish academia’s place in the world by ignoring its findings.”

Later that month, the Scottish Parliament backed what was, in effect, a ban on fracking.

  • We’ll update this post with more detail and reaction when we get it.

36 replies »

  1. Does anyone else see that the anti antis and the remaining dead duck zombie companies have nothing left but to try to work the legal system to overturn democracy in order to get their own way?

    Once there was an illusion that the whole fracking debacle was all about science and national interest and cheap fuel, but all that fabrication has fallen away back into the poisoned dust where it came from.

    Now all they have left is this bully boy tactic through the law courts to force an entire country to suffer the invasion and destruction of their land, air and water, and to be forced into letting Bull-Ineos and its attendant bully boys to further endanger climate change.

    All in the name of private greed avarice and the insane need to fill their empty souls with the profit motive.

    No love, no respect, no regard, no sense, no hope.

    Sad isnt it?

  2. There must be some kind of secret competition going of who can be the most hated person in the world Ratcliffe is looking like a real piece of work. Hopefully the people will see he has really overstepped the mark with this and NT and has shot himself in the foot by raising awareness of what he is doing and why, and there will be more people than ever fighting against him.

  3. My own blog post on this
    was on 5th October, after the Scottish decision.
    [Moderator: article at:
    As you will see, I am totally against fracking, but I understand the pro-fracking position. Please also read my ‘Page’ (the blue titles on the blog homepage) on ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ as to why.
    To cut a long story short, in the SHORT TERM (apols, I don’t know how to get italics) there are megabucks to be made. In the (not so) long term – ecological disaster due to methane escapes as much as CO2.

  4. No, Arthur, I think he is a long way behind the antis, where the Courts have already imposed an injunction against THEM because of their antisocial and bullying tactics. No competition whatsoever.

    I should wait and see who wins these next two Court cases-you may just find Jim scores a hat-trick, and that will really set you back. I suspect there will not be a lot of public support for a charity if it is found to be abusing it’s status, or a party north of the border that costs it’s tax payers money to secure a deal to keep them in control.

    You might just find he wants to raise awareness of what he is doing and why.

  5. I’m sure you have him sussed Sherwulfe, and he must be quaking prior to fracking! But as long as he sees nonsense comments about the level of debt his company carries, and has no shareholders (unlike a company like Glencore) who will determine whether that is right or wrong, I suspect he sleeps soundly, especially after reading the dire predictions about LNG supply from Shell. (Although, it will not have come as a surprise to him, maybe to John.)

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