Ineos loses legal challenge on Scottish fracking “ban”

Scottish Court of Session

Scottish Court of Sessions

The shale gas company, Ineos, has lost its case against the Scottish Government’s policy on fracking.

The judge at the Court of Sessions, Lord Pentland, ruled that the Scottish Government’s “preferred policy position” against fracking for shale gas in Scotland should stand.

The ‘effective ban’ on fracking announced by Scottish ministers last year does not amount to a legally enforceable prohibition, therefore Ineos’s case is “unfounded”, Lord Pentland said.

He also found that since the Scottish Government had not yet made a final decision, the claim by Ineos and Reach Coal Seam Gas for compensation on the basis of a breach of its human rights was premature.

The ruling stated:

“The petition is predicated on the proposition that the Scottish Government has introduced an unlawful prohibition against fracking in Scotland.

“Whilst acknowledging that there have been a number of ministerial statements to the effect that there is an effective ban, the Lord Advocate, on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, made it clear to the court that such statements were mistaken and did not accurately reflect the legal position.

“I consider that the government’s legal position is soundly based and that there is a indeed no prohibition against fracking in force at the present time.”

Lord Pentland added that the present position was “an emerging and unfinalised planning policy”, saying there was “no basis on which the court should interfere” with an ongoing policy making process.

The lawyer for the Scottish Government, James Mure QC, had told the court the actual policy on fracking would be decided in October this year.

He said “the concept of an effective ban” was a PR “gloss”, describing it as “the language of a press statement”.

“Cause of acute concern” – Paul Wheelhouse

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said today:

“I welcome the Court of Session’s ruling on this important issue, which has been a cause of acute concern in communities across Scotland.

“This decision vindicates the extensive process of research and consultation which the Scottish Government has undertaken since 2015.

“As I set out in October, our preferred position is not to support Unconventional Oil and Gas extraction in Scotland, and that position remains unchanged.

“I have repeatedly set out to parliament that we would undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) ahead of finalising that position and that approach has been endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament.

“The work to complete the SEA and a Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment is currently underway and the findings will be carefully considered.

“In the meantime, a moratorium is in place which means no local authority can grant planning permission and ministers would defer any decision on any planning application that did come forward until the policymaking process is completed.

“The practical effect of the current moratorium and the policymaking process which is underway to finalise our position is that no fracking can take place in Scotland at this time.”

“Scottish Government did not know what it was doing” – Ineos

In a statement, Tom Pickering, Operation Director of Ineos Shale, said:

“We are grateful to Lord Pentland for clarifying that there is no fracking ban. The Scottish Government caved in to pressure from ill-informed environmental activists. Today’s judgement makes it clear government decisions will now have to be based on facts and science, rather than prejudice and political expediency.”

“We welcome the decision announced by Lord Pentland today.  We are in the extraordinary position where a senior judge has effectively concluded that the Scottish Government did not know what it was doing. He has ruled that there is no fracking ban in Scotland.  We are sure that this will be a surprise to all those who heard the First Minister and others repeatedly tell Holyrood the exact opposite. It is for MSPs to decide whether Parliament was misled deliberately or simply through incompetence.

“The Scottish Government caved in to demands from ill-informed environmental activists. It ignored the evidence presented by its own scientific experts. Today’s judgement makes it clear the SNP Government will now have to make decisions based on facts and science rather than prejudice and political expediency.

“It is astonishing how the government could have got this so wrong.

“If Scotland wants to be considered as a serious place to do business then it is imperative that Government ministers can be taken at their word. We cannot have a situation where we need to go to court to find out what government policy is.  Business needs a transparent environment that will encourage investment in Scotland for the long-term.”

“Huge relief” – Friends of the Earth

The ruling has been welcomed by Friends of the Earth Scotland, which submitted a public interest intervention in the case. It argued that any ban was lawful and it was required to meet Scotland’s legally binding climate change commitments.

Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland head of campaigns, said:

“We are delighted that INEOS has lost its challenge against the Scottish Government’s ‘effective ban’ on fracking. Today’s ruling will come as a huge relief to the thousands of people who have fought to stop fracking in Scotland, particularly those faced with the prospect of living near this dirty, damaging industry.

“INEOS should listen to the people and parliament of Scotland who have made it clear that there is no support for fracking, and give up on its plans to trash the central belt and the climate.

“Support for a ban on fracking from communities on the frontline of this industry, people the length and breadth of Scotland, and almost all the parties at Holyrood is overwhelming. There is little doubt that a strategic environmental assessment will support a ban on fracking given the mountains of evidence about the risks of the unconventional oil and gas industry to our environment, climate and people’s health.

“We urge the Scottish Government to move forward with its decision making process on fracking as swiftly as possible and use the powers now available to them to legislate for a full ban, and draw a line under the issue of unconventional oil and gas extraction for good.”

“Abandon dangerous scheme to frack Scotland”

Wenona Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch, said:

“In its quest to frack Scotland, Ineos has been blocked by local government officials, the courts, and the overwhelming majority of the Scottish public. The company should heed this overwhelming opposition and abandon its dangerous scheme to frack Scotland.

“Ineos’ fracking for plastics has made a significant contribution to pollution on both sides of the Atlantic. The company has most recently complained about the negative impacts of the shutdown of the Mariner East pipeline in Pennsylvania, which supplies its Grangemouth facility. It is clear that Ineos only wants to frack the UK in order to secure a cheap feedstock for its plastic production.

“The next step for the Scottish government is to clear up any remaining ambiguity and enact a once-and-for-all total ban on fracking.”

“Confirm the ban”

Leigh Day solicitor, Carol Day, said:

“We support the call on the Scottish Government to now formally confirm its ban on unconventional oil and gas exploration in line with public opinion and other jurisdictions of the UK that are on the same trajectory.”

“Lancashire residents misled”

A spokesperson for Lancashire For Shale, accused campaigners of misleading residents over the Scottish fracking ban.

“It is quite clear that opponents of shale gas extraction have used news of a supposed ban in Scotland to try and influence public opinion here.

“We’ve seen them repeatedly push the false line that the Westminster government in England has behaved somehow recklessly in supporting the industry, whilst claiming that the Scottish government has acted to protect its people and prevent harm.

“The only things that a ban on the safe and responsible extraction of Lancashire shale gas would prevent are economic opportunities, jobs, and the chance to improve energy security and cut emissions by reducing our dependency on imported foreign gas.

“Campaigners should be ashamed of the way they have tried to pull the wool over the eyes of Lancashire and its people.”

81 replies »

  1. Bit like Tesla then John?

    Except, of course, it is investors money in Tesla where employees are being sacked, others accused of being the reason behind rubbish performance, working environment being criticised, the product is catching fire, or running down by-standers! And still no profit.

    Now, that is alternative.

    Whereas, with INEOS, it is their own £billions that they risk.

    Perhaps you could send a copy of Jim’s book to Mr.Musk to help him produce a sustainable business-one that doesn’t continue to rely on huge financial injections 15 years after starting but still earning no profit and paying no dividend to the investors, whilst he tries to cut a deal to make himself the wealthiest executive in the world, referring to himself as a socialist whilst doing so.

    A bit more “nuance” from the antis.

    • ‘Whereas, with INEOS, it is their own £billions that they risk; – that’s the funniest post all year; guess what LTD means oh he who professes to be ‘up with the in crowd’?

    • Elon Musk can send cars into space, retrieve rockets that NASA cannot, and leads the world in battery storage and electric cars.

      Ineos doesn’t know the difference between a moratorium and a ban.

      Musk is developing the globally agreed future energy source while Ineos is buying BP cast offs.

      Obviously BP would not sell off an asset that had a profitable long term future.

      BP will have approached other global majors. They didn’t want the pipe line.

      • “Obviously BP would not sell off an asset that had a profitable long term future”…
        BP has a history of selling things and others companies extending field life, making lots of money. Two examples: Forties oilfield has made money for Apache since BP sold it. BP’s Pakistan fields were sold and make lots for the new owner.

  2. And who secures the debt Sherwulfe??

    OMG-it is Mr. Ratcliffe and his co-owners, who can show they run a profitable business and can fund that debt. There is a substantial difference between that and a Ponzi scheme but who would know that? I think you do Sherwulfe, but you calculate other antis may not-shame.

    You will need a bit more “nuancing” to convince any antis that hold a mortgage they are not securing that debt. Maybe if they can show the mortgage lender their financial records put them in the most wealthy category the lender smiles sweetly? Isn’t this how financial institutions make their money that then supports many a pensioners income?

    Those that remember their mortgage rate back in the 1970s when OPEC showed the UK how secure it’s energy supply was with a 400% hike in price may find it quite funny-but that would be a “nuance” for what they really thought.

    Bit more reading required for he who professes to know anything about how INEOS operates. The information is now available, Sherwulfe. If you still wish to make up your own version, that is your choice, but you may just find others have bothered to check the facts.

    • ‘OMG-it is Mr. Ratcliffe and his co-owners, who can show they run a profitable business and can fund that debt. ‘ – if you believe this, you do not understand the nature of limited liability companies.

      A mortgage by an individual is secured on the property and that property can be repossessed [if it hasn’t become worthless due to the proximity to a fracking site if payments are not made as per the agreement]; this is secured personal liability.

      Do you even understand what the word ‘nuance’ means?

      You have no idea how INEOS works, unless of course you are one of their patsys? – and trust me, unless you are JR himself [ha, what a thought] you would not be privy to the ‘nuances’ of his ‘operations’.

      • “You have no idea how INEOS works, unless of course you are one of their patsys? – and trust me, unless you are JR himself [ha, what a thought] you would not be privy to the ‘nuances’ of his ‘operations’.”

        b b b b b but isn’t it al in Sir Jim’s new book (heavily discounted from a cover rice of £18.17 to £11.34 after just 3 days on the shelf!

        • The Alchemist? The turning of base metals into noble metals, one of which is gold? The Philosophers Stone? Actually it is more aimed at a spiritual transformation, the wealth imagery is just the cover story.

          Interesting, We get the word Chemistry from the ancient practices from amongst others, The Land of Khem, which was pre Egypt, the two ancient pre-sciences, some may say “pseudo science”, were astrology and alchemy.

          So it appears that our friend Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is into esoteric religion? Thoth and Hermes?

          So where is this famous evidential empiric science now then?

          The richest man in UK is an alchemist and that is related to all the ancient pre sciences of the foundations of the universe, and it is the mere mention of that when the anti antis are so quick to laugh and decry?

          That actually somewhat raises SJR’s intelligence in my view, but i am unlikely to read his book, since such esoteric pre science can, like everything else, be used for good or evil, and present practice, does not entirely inspire confidence?

          Interesting, none the less.

  3. You have to love the confusion amongst the ranks!

    “The deal that made Jim Ratcliffe the UK’s richest man”. Err, no John, that was not the Forties pipeline. You need to look a bit deeper than that. Yes, some companies have businesses they run very poorly and are glad to dispose of them. Others often purchase them, and put right the problems. Not unusual.

    So busy trying to produce the smoke, it blinds them, rather than anyone else.

    How many weeks ago was it that we were being told how vulnerable INEOS were to going out of business simply because they operated with some debt? I suppose that must have been what opened their structures a little to scrutiny (lol) showing just a slight (lol) difference.

    But, good to see some education underway.

    You may like to check my post from some weeks ago (go on, you know you want to), when I suggested the knighthood would be in order? (Uncanny, eh!)

    Saint Jim next? (A bit more research needed for that one, John. But knowledge is always useful.)

  4. Surely, refracktion, you mean Sir Jim’s book that is tagged as a Best Seller already, with only 5 star reviews? (Goodness, is anything beyond the chap!) Strange that no review seems to be there from 5% Len!

    Maybe you were “misled” with The Alchemist-A Fable About Following Your Dream, by Paulo Coelho? Easily done in haste. Enjoy.

    Now, if you want to use the knowledge from your “snapping”, you might explain to a few of your followers how it has been known for some bright young things to buy up items, such as ladies undies off the Internet in quantity (at a discount), and then retail them off the Internet and make a decent profit, that then becomes a living and then a business? Perhaps not. Can’t be encouraging that nasty capitalism stuff-didn’t Branson start along similar lines?

    • A little desperate flurry of empty words martin? Perhaps you will follow your leader into the realms of alchemy and astrology?

      Like moths to the flame (or flare), the anti antis are being consumed by their own mistaken attraction.


      • Best seller? I would be interested to know how many boxes of his own book are sitting in his many garages?

  5. Of course he would want to do that Sherwulfe in an attempt to gain publicity and income?

    Ahh-he is already the richest guy in the UK, and generally shuns publicity!

    I think your interest is compounded by something else. You can dry that and burn it to generate heat, you know.

  6. At the end of the day the judge confirmed. the SNP had lied to the Scottish people. that has to be 1 – nill to Ineos no matter how you try & twist it.

    • Except you’re twisting it Gasman. The Judge did not say the SNP had lied to the Scottish people. In fact they’ve acceded to the wishes of the Scottish people by putting the moratorium in plans until the final decisions are put into law. It is effectively a ‘ban’ but actioned through the planning system. A red light that is not a permanent red light is still a red light.

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