When is a ban not a ban? Day 2 of Ineos legal challenge over fracking in Scotland

Scottish fracking ban

Paul Wheelhouse announcing the instruction to local authorities not to support fracking, 3 October 2017.

The Scottish Government created an unlawful policy to prevent fracking in Scotland, the lawyer for two gas companies told the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh today.

Gerry Moynihan, QC for Ineos Shale and Reach Coal Seam Gas, said the Scottish Government had, through its public statements, introduced a ban on fracking.

Mr Moynihan was presenting the companies’ case on the second day of their judicial review of the government’s instruction to local authorities not to support fracking planning applications.

Yesterday, James Mure QC, for the Scottish Government, urged the court the reject the challenge. He said:

“The concept of an effective ban is a gloss. It is the language of a press statement”.

The government had not yet adopted a position, he said. This would finalised after an environmental and strategic assessment, expected in October 2018. The Scottish Government had continued the existing moratorium, he said.

But Mr Moynihan said today:

“The Scottish Ministers have acted unlawfully. If one looks at the statements which have been made one thing is clear – there is a ban on fracking in place.

“The practical issue is that unless the field is cleared these decisions will wallow like a black cloud over matters.

“It was said that it was a gloss. We are dancing around handbags – what does a gloss even mean?”

Mr Moynihan said the Scottish Government’s decision had implications for the companies. There was no point in them proceeding with applications for planning and environmental permissions, he said. There had been no consideration about the financial impacts on them.

“Misleading statements”

The debate about a bans or moratoriums spilled out of the court room into Scottish politicians today.

Alexander Burnett

The Scottish Conservative energy spokesperson, Alexander Burnett, said yesterday’s hearing had been “beyond humiliating” for the SNP. He said:

“People will be stunned that a QC representing the SNP government in court could so spectacularly contradict the claims and parliamentary statements of Nicola Sturgeon and Paul Wheelhouse

“Both should explain to parliament as a matter of urgency why these seemingly misleading statements were made.”

Claudia Beamish

Scottish Labour’s spokesperson, Claudia Beamish, said:

“Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers told MSPs – and more importantly campaigners and communities – that Scottish towns and villages were no longer at risk from fracking and the environmental damage it can cause because they had banned it.

“Now the government’s lawyer is saying the opposite, saying it is the language of a press release.

“SNP ministers need to explain this fast. It isn’t sustainable for the SNP to be saying one thing on their leaflets, website and in press releases and something else entirely in a courtroom.”

Mark Ruskell“Desperate attempt”

Mark Ruskell, for the Scottish Greens, described the Ineos court action as “a desperate attempt by a mega-rich multinational that knows it’s lost the argument, while pretending to ignore the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament.”

He said:

“We’ve argued for a long time that the extension of the government’s planning moratorium wasn’t a real ban, which is why Greens strengthened it in October 2017, with a majority at Holyrood supporting our call to prevent a future government overturning the policy on a whim.

“As a result of Green campaigning, the ban is now included in the Energy Strategy and will soon become part of the National Planning Framework. We continue to monitor the Scottish Government’s work on this.”

“Evidence-led approach”

The SNP rejected suggestions that it had misled parliament. A spokesperson for the party said:

“These claims defy all logic. If the Tories are right – and they’re not – why has Ineos taken its case against a ban to the Court of Session?

“There is no fracking in Scotland and there can be no fracking n Scotland. That’s because the SNP has taken decisive action, which builds on our existing moratorium

“And let’s not forget: the Scottish Government’s plans won the support of the Scottish Parliament

“The SNP has taken a cautious, evidence-led approach and is implementing a ban in line with the views of the vast majority of Scottish people, who cited concerns for the environment, their communities, and the impact on public health.”


More than 14,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees petition calling for the “ban” to stay in place, 2,000 of them in the past 10 hours.

  • The case is expected to end tomorrow (10 May 2018).






29 replies »

  1. So what Nicola says out of her mouth is just lip gloss?

    Nicola lies, simple as that…

    The link on a Fracking ban is still live on the SNP website

    Bunch of idiots…

    Their position now they have been caught out?

    We’ll make a decision in October

    Funny timing that, after Cuadrilla fracks It’s wells and shows how much it can commercially get out SAFELY…

    Then maybe the SNP will make a statement that shale gas can be extracted SAFELY in the U.K and Scotland will push ahead

    IF the SNP had been serious they would have pushed a legal motion through to ban it


    • You are right Sherwulfe, fracking is a cult?

      Praise the fraud!


      Fracking is rebored!

      Dear me, we can expect that fateful knock on the door and a copy of The Frack Tower posted through the letterbox?

      Kish, no one but the SNP claimed it was a ban? The word used was moratorium, and that still stands on grounds of the evidential approach until October 2018.

      Sorry if that’s blasphemy?

    • ‘ after Cuadrilla fracks It’s wells and shows how much it can commercially get out SAFELY’ ……ah yes Cuadrilla, the company that caused 50 seismic events with its first attempt at fracking…..
      Now that’s embarrassment..

        • ….just like your paid protesters perhaps, or that shale will be profitable, safe and part of the energy mix?…

          So for the avoidance of doubt:
          BGS said ‘We agree with the conclusion that the observed seismicity was induced by the hydraulic fracture treatments at Preese Hall. However, we are not convinced by the projected low probability of other earth quakes during future treatments’. Preese Hall Shale Gas Fracturing Review and Recommendations for Induced Seismic Mitigation April 2012.

  2. How is this illigal? INEOS are the ones that have bullied those in rural areas to put their fracking plants, that destroy aquifer and wildlife just to produce plastics! @ineos you are the most hated company in the world!

  3. This is Alice in Wonderland stuff. They said “Fracking will not and cannot take place in Scotland” but they didn’t mean it – just gloss…5 litres of green gloss I guess.

    Another example might be “We want an independent Scotland” – or yes, except for electricity to back-up intermittent wind and solar power; we want the rest of the UK to provide that stuff.

    Seriously for the Scottish Government’s legal representative to take that line of defence must surely mean they are admitting defeat from the start, not that it makes much difference, just pushes the decision making down to local level where local planning committees will have their arms twisted by Central Governmemt.

  4. So, this is the way you encourage business to invest in the Scottish economy? Add in higher taxation for anyone who is technically competent and expensive booze, and it is a real “lure” to one and all-not.

    I see resignations on the horizon. Misleading the UK Parliament demands that, let’s see whether there is similar democracy in Scotland. (I suspect not, as there seems to be an acceptance that the day job is amateur hour.)

    • Martin you’re showing your age again, in your day people in public positions had morals. No one will resign, even the SNP chap that was accused of sexual misconduct didn’t resign from parliament and now stands as an independent.

  5. We’ll It’s not only Nicola who’s been caught with her pants down

    Swansea tidal lagoon project admits cost of power will be absolutely extortionate !!!

    Lies lies and more lies, intermittent renewables strike again, not even taking into account the infrastructure that will need to be in place when the tidal lagoon is not producing. Best case producing up to 14 hours a day.
    That means at least 10 hours a day gas producing electricity…

    • ah yes, the god ‘gas’ who bellows methane and goes up in a puff of finite toxic smoke…..
      nope; try again

        • I’m not surprised you’re spitting your plastic dummies out

          First you’re lied to by the SNP . There is NO Fracking ban after all

          Then Swansea tidal lagoon have to own up to their big green con job…

          Green gangsters will lose on that great wave of BS…

          Probably be cheaper to start a space project with the mission being to get the moon orbiting the Earth more so as to make the tidal project a bit more financially viable…

      • Cleaner burn than Biomass…

        Seen it yet???

        Dispatches Channel 4 “The true cost of Green energy” available on catch up…

        • Round and round and round we go, where we stop no body knows? Do you have anything more interesting to post Kish? This repeat record is becoming very snoring…..

          Shale gas today 0%
          Renewables 39.69% 14.051GW of 35.402 GW demand
          North Sea and LNG 30.4% just 10.762 GW of demand

          Today the clean energy has a higher output than fossil fuels; wonder why Kisheny you did not post these numbers today from your favourite site?

            • No need for the link Kish, the numbers change over the day, the link would be pointless. Of course, I will reference my source in future [although it was indirectly referenced as we all know your favourite site, and favourite programme]; bless

              And just to remind us all that the 44% of gas generation at 5.22pm did not include UK shale today.

              Would ask you to state the demand next time as 44% of ? means nothing in the grand scheme of things…..

          • We keep going round because you will not recognise Biomass emits more CO2 than coal

            Not one anti will talk about

            Dispatches Channel 4 “The true cost of green energy” available on catch up

            • Except biomass releases recently absorbed carbon – as in a carbon cycle – but coal and other fossil fuels are bringing ancient carbon into the atmosphere at a rate that nature’s cycles cannot keep up with.

  6. Yes, I saw that about the infamous tidal lagoon!

    Needs to be relegated with their football team. Apart from the cost, and doubts about it functioning the little problem of a huge spat between Wales and Cornwall is still lying in the long grass somewhere.

    But why would the “alternatives” break the habit of their lifetime, and actually focus upon something that was not going to impose their beliefs and huge costs upon the majority?

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