Ineos accuses Scottish Government of “Alice in Wonderland” approach to fracking policy

Tom Pickering Operations Director INEOS Shale

Tom Pickering, Operations Director of Ineos Shale. Photo: Ineos

Ineos said today it was astonished to learn that the Scottish Government claimed it had not issued a ban on fracking in Scotland.

In a statement marking the end of its judicial review hearing in Edinburgh, the company described “an Alice-in-Wonderland situation” where businesses needed to go to court to verify announcements made in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

Ineos Shale and Reach Coal Seam Gas have claimed undisclosed damages over what they argue is the unlawful Scottish Government decision on fracking.

The Scottish Government told the Court of Session on Tuesday that it had continued the existing moratorium on unconventional oil and gas, rather than imposing a ban.

At today’s hearing, the government’s lawyer, James Mure QC, said a strategic environmental assessment into the policy was now underway. This would be followed by a business and regulatory impact assessment and consultation before a final decision was made.

Gerry Moynihan QC, for the companies, said the court needed to look at what had been said in the statement to Parliament in October 2017. When the moratorium was announced this was described as “an effective ban”, he said.

Ministers decided to impose a ban, realised they did not have the powers under the Scotland Act, and used planning powers as a means to an end, which was a ban, Mr Moynihan added.

This afternoon, Tom Pickering, Operations Director of Ineos Shale, said:

“We came to the Court of Session to review the Scottish Government’s position on onshore unconventional Oil and Gas development in Scotland.

“We were astonished to learn during proceedings that the Scottish Government claims that it has not issued a ban on fracking in Scotland, and indeed there may never be one.

“The position of the Scottish Government that has now been stated in court represents a staggering U-turn on the policy direction announced by the Energy Minister during Parliamentary debate in October last year, and by the First Minister when she said in Parliament ‘Scotland should welcome the fact that fracking in Scotland is banned’.

“The Scottish people and Parliament may find this revelation barely believable, when the Government has repeatedly told Holyrood that there is an effective and immediate ban.

“The developments during the Judicial Review process undermine the statements made by Ministers and cast further uncertainty and ambiguity across the policy framework for onshore unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland. We took Ministers and the Government at their word.

“Sadly we seem to have reached the Alice-in-Wonderland situation where a business has to go to the Scottish courts to establish whether announcements in Holyrood can be taken at face value.  As a result there is now an unpredictable and uncertain environment for business in Scotland.  Jobs rely on investment, but there is precious little in Scotland at the present time. The current situation makes it harder than ever for business to invest in Scotland for the long term.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said in a statement this afternoon:

“The Scottish Government’s preferred position is that it does not support the development of unconventional oil and gas.

“As we have made clear, this position is subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment. It remains inappropriate to comment further during the judicial review process.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland was given a rare permission to intervene in the case. The campaign organisation argued that the Scottish Government must ban fracking to meet its obligations under the Paris climate treaty.

The judge in the case, Lord Pentland, reserved judgement to a future date.

Links to DrillOrDrop reports

Day 1: Court urged to dismiss Ineos challenge to Scottish fracking moratorium

Day 2: When is a ban not a ban? 


78 replies »

  1. For some reason, Kisheny, and I think a lot of it is ignorance, the SNP does not seem to realise that much of the oil industry infrastructure in Scotland is aging and without investment it will be allowed to wither away. That certainly was the case with regard to Grangemouth. I used to have discussions with some of the businesses around that area and they were horrified as to what would happen to services, family incomes, etc. if Grangemouth did not attract serious investment. Now it has, it seems to be assumed that is guaranteed, but nothing is guaranteed in this respect when the business is global.

    Anyway, must get ready for The Bridge.

    Avoid the sand flies! (Father didn’t, and ended up in the hospital in Malta, and thus missed Sicily. However, then had to change Regiments and caught up further up Italy, but that meant he was then moved out for D Day later on. Life’s full of unforeseen consequences! ) Someone should tell Nicola.

        • Martin suggested that someone tell his views to Nicola; it’s always best for the originator to communicate than it go through second or third hands to save omissions and misunderstanding.

          It may actually be that Nicola is reading this blog right now, Hi Nicola, love your strong approach to politics; wish you were here 🙂

          [Edited by moderator]

          Oh, and regarding the TV; it’s not about the money, it’s about the content. Just an informed choice.

          Night night

      • And another header (i use the word advisedly) thanks martin just two more walls and you can retire knowing it was a job well done, at least in volume terms?
        I suspect that Nicola is only too aware that unforeseen circumstances represent some of life’s challenges Sherwulfe, which is precisely why the “b” word (JR better turn three times round and throw salt over your shoulder quick now!) sorry The Scottish Nay Word, against fracking word was taken in moratorium terms in order to prevent a very well known fracking circumstance becoming an uncontrollable ecological debacle?

        • Precisely Sherwulfe television is the worst mind numbing dumbing down instrument there is, radio is going that way too, there are still some gems but I remember radio 4 before it descended down the entertainment ladder into mediocresville USA?

          There are signs of recovery everywhere now though, independent internet has escaped the censorship of google and YouTube, and is revealing the truth about this criminally high jacked political and social system programming we have all around us now?

          The pressure to conform and accept is so strong now.

          There is hope for us yet, just so long as we can keep an open mind and not be afraid to reevaluate old accepted certainties for what they are?
          Just redundant illusions.

          These conversations here reveal that the shut down black out blinkers are incapable of challenging their own belief systems and the fury at seeing them laid bare explains what we see here all the time.

          Being illusorily safe in their isolated blinkered little bubbles may seem comforting at least, but bubbles burst, and this artificial bubble of fracking is deflating fast in spite of all the hot air being pumped into it daily?

          We have to have a system or better still, many systems, in place to replace those old redundant burst bubbles when they finally pop and renewable energy sources are a major one of those safety nets and perhaps the pin as well?

          Evolution is always a crisis point between ever more entrenched blinkered complacency and the simultaneously the desperate need for change to prevent the inevitable stagnation and decay into extinction?

          We see both those around us all the time now?

          That Hopi native American predictions says that, there will be rapid change coming like a fast river? So fast that we must be ready for it or perish in the flood.

          So when it comes, we either cling to the river bank of the old certainties that will all only get washed away anyway, or we push out into the fast stream of change and hope we have prepared ourselves sufficiently enough not to doubt it?
          We have seen what clinging to the old redundant certainties of the river bank does to people, right here.
          Inertia to change is our worst enemy.
          I think I would rather be ready for change when it comes, and come it will.

          • Talking of radio, there was just an excellent play on BBC Radio4 Extra, Don Taylors “Underworld” a modern take on Dantes Inferno which is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso.

            Don Taylors adaption has some very interesting things to say about our present world situation regarding amongst other things, the fossil fuel industry and its attempted rough shod march across England, Scotland and Ireland and the world?

            Well worth a listen anyway?

            ( )

            • The world today is full of those who refuse to take responsibility. Phrases like ‘ Someone should tell Nicola’ illustrate this as this puts the responsibility and consequence onto another. It is so easy for those who do not have the balls to stand up for their convictions to rant and rave on here. Actions should follow words; responsibility should precede comment.

            • That’s a coincidence. I heard Don Taylor’s Underworld only this morning on Radio 4Extra. It’s available on I player for the next month. I thought the same as you, Phil C, how relevant it was to what’s happening right now in the world. The sad thing is it was written in 1994. Things haven’t improved since then, have they? Those in charge will never learn.

            • Hi Pauline, good wasn’t it? I think the BBC link has more days to listen again.
              Have a good weekend.

            • Thats an interesting observation Sher, yes, that “someone else’s responsibility” is the general anti anti attitude isn’t it? Do what they want to make a fast buck and to hell with the consequences, someone else will pick up the rubbish? Much like drivers throwing their rubbish out of the car or truck window? There is a lane not far from here, it leads to a couple of houses but then down to a narrow lane that goes between fields, its a favourite druggy and alchy area, some people who care about these things and i collected 16 large builders bags of things i dont want to describe and i went there a couple of days ago, and it is literally littered again? No Robbie Burns there i’m afraid, and most of it was not combustible anyway? We will have to do the same this year, the police are aware now anyway.

              Out of sight, out of mind?

              I stayed in Hong Kong for a couple of years. When i got a flat there, the westerners all said the same, that the Chinese would just drop their rubbish anywhere, even from the balcony above onto the balcony below, and so on until the ground was littered, quite “literally”, you might say, but not in a nice way, i wont describe why? They did have very regular clearing and disposal and street washingl.

              Unfortunately most of it went into the South China Seas on “honey barges” with flat bottoms that just opened up and dumped all the waste directly below the barges a couple of miles out from HK Harbour? You could smell it on the wind sometimes. The westerners called it “perfume day”.That was in the nineties just before and after the handover back to the Chinese government,

              I dont think that has changed much since? I read that a lot of toxic waste is secretly exported to China inside second hand cars and trucks and containers and is an illegal business all of its own? of course a lot of that never reaches China, it just gets dumped overboard in international waters,the electronic devices are stripped down, but the plastic casings are just dumped in the sea.

              Cue kish?

              You can guess where much of that waste comes from?

              Right here.

              Eeeee lad, where thas muck thas brass! And don’t we know that only too well?

            • Hi Pauline, just realised i didn’t reply to your post completely?
              And, i agree with you, things certainly haven’t improved from the exploitation side at all have they? In fact i would say that what we now know about the habits of those in such positions, none of which could be mentioned here without an emetic and a stomach pump and several strong vomit buckets, they have allowed themselves to descend much further than there are words to describe it?

              However, there is a strong and rapidly growing backlash to that, and people are waking up to just how deep the descending black frack rabbit hole goes, to use the chosen appropriate Charles Lutwidge Dodgson reference?

              These court cases are doing their industry more damage than they expected, because it highlights just how contemptible they are towards anyone and anything, and think they can just ride rough shod over anyone who stands in their way? They are finding that is mostly self defeating?

              Using Tom Pickering’s somewhat derog a tory attempt at a literary analogy in reverse, it is more like Malice in Blunderland, and Malice Through The Fracking Gas and perhaps a Mad Frackers Texas Tea Party?

    • The real JR
      ‘Ratcliffe, a Brexit supporter, this week told the British Olympic Association to “take a long walk off a short plank” after it refused to let him use its Team GB trademark for his America’s Cup team without paying…. but the BOA refused him the rights without a $9m (£6.6m) contribution to help fund Olympians’.
      Now the richest ‘man’ in the UK won’t pay up to help others. No tax, no support for the UK Olympics team; what a guy.

  2. Irony lost on you Sherwulfe?

    Nicola knew all along the risk she was taking via her deal with the Greens. If she needs me to remind her, she has real problems.

    It’s going to be uncomfortable for the SNP in Westminster, sandwiched between the DUP and the Scottish Tories! Interesting little soap in the making there on 232-but I understand your views regarding TV. My parents never wanted one as they believed it wasted time that could be better utilised. Probably not a reason that the antis would buy into.

  3. Goodness, there really are some insomniacs around this site! No wonder they are so grumpy when they spend the night on DOD!

    Lack of sleep helps to produce grumpiness. Must be true, it’s on Giggle!

  4. Oh dear Sherwulfe-it had to be you!

    For the last few months the “experts” amongst the antis have been forecasting how INEOS were financially suspect. Now, as is always the case, once success has been proven then in the classic way exhibited around the world, some still have to try and undermine it. That’s the Guardian for you.

    You won’t be alone Sherwulfe, there will be many others over the coming weeks. Some will even follow your poor attempt at giving only part of the story, suggesting others are so ignorant they won’t realise. How much is Jim donating to the Team, Sherwulfe? So now it will be Team UK and not Team GB, and more funds can go into the team rather than the name. Yet to see a name win the America’s Cup.

    Perhaps Jim is already doing his bit via Daily Mile and Go Run For Fun, to produce tomorrows Olympians?

    I’m sure you may have excited a couple of anti capitalists but many of the 18,500 employees may have different views.

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