Breaking: Court blocks fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site

181005 Helen Chuntso at PNR

Campaigner and researcher, Helen Chuntso, outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 5 October 2018. Photo: Bob Dennett

A  High Court judge has ruled that fracking should not take place at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool until a hearing next week.

Mrs Justice Farbey signed an interim injunction order for the Preston New Road site to last until the case comes to court, likely to be in London on Wednesday 10 October.

The order said:

“Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd must desist from carrying out any hydraulic fracturing operations at the Preston New Road site (including oil/gas wells designated PNR-1z or PNR2) until the hearing has taken place.”

Yesterday, Lytham anti-fracking campaigner Bob Dennett applied to the court for an emergency injunction and judicial review of emergency planning procedures at the site (DrillOrDrop report). He said he feared the authorities had failed to protect local people from emergencies at the site.

Speaking outside Preston New Road this morning, Mr Dennett, told DrillOrDrop:

“This is absolutely fantastic news. I am ecstatic.

“As a result of our action yesterday, Cuadrilla put out a press release this morning and they have invited television news on to their site to keep journalists away from us.”

Cuadrilla said yesterday it was aware of the injunction application and described it as a “last ditch attempt at delaying our efforts to find a new source of much-needed natural gas for the UK which is a national imperative.”

But Mr Dennett said today:

“They have accused us of a cynical attempt to prevent them from fracking. But they are the ones that are cynical by doing this today.”

181004 Helen Chuntso and Bob Dennett slider

Bob Dennett and fellow campaigner, Helen Chuntso, outside Preston New Road on 4 October 2018.

This morning, Cuadrilla announced that fracking on the first horizontal well at the site would begin in a week. DrillOrDrop report

The company is taking some journalists on tours of the site today.

A statement by Cuadrilla this afternoon said:

“We understand the hearing about whether an interim injunction should be granted has been set for the middle of next week and we should not start hydraulic fracturing operations before then, which we were not planning to do in any event.”

Mr Dennett’s case has been brought against Lancashire County Council, the co-ordinator of the local resilience forum (LRF), which is responsible for emergency planning.

He is seeking a judicial review of what he says is the failure of the county council “properly to manage and regulate the environmental and health and safety risks to the local community arising from the shale gas fracking operations by Cuadrilla at the Preston New Road shale gas fracking site”.

Mr Dennett said there appeared to “no specific and robust plans for the evacuation of local residents, in particular children attending the 15 schools in the vicinity of the site.”

He said today:

“If I had all the emergency procedure documents in place I would have released them all months ago to the community to prove I had its best interests at heart.

“Lancashire County Council has refused to do this. This raises questions over whether they have the right processes in place.”

The court order gives Cuadrilla, the county council and other regulators the opportunity to vary or discharge the order at 24 hours’ notice. Evidence to be put before the court must be submitted by Monday afternoon.

Liz Hutchins, director of campaigns at Friends of the Earth, said:

“The environmental risks of fracking are well-documented and issues regarding safety at the Preston New Road site have been raised before.

“It’s right that local people continue to highlight these concerns, through the courts if necessary.

“Fracking has already been stopped in Scotland, Wales, & Northern Ireland because of the risks. Fracking is bad news for our climate, environment and local people: when is the government going to wake-up and realise it’s backed the wrong horse?”

Categories: Legal

76 replies »

  1. By the way Jono, if you want another example of strange ‘photos, how about Boris jogging in a field of wheat during the Tory Conf. to weave a story around? Some farmer will have a big problem if he has a field of wheat unharvested by early October! Especially this year.

    • Actually it wasn’t wheat , the devil is in the detail Martin , it was a meadow but then , you are not one to notice things like that 😀

    • £6,970 raised already of a target of £10,000 with 28 days still to go.

      Great when you can afford top legal representation.

  2. The last hurrah for the antis and the confirmation that our court system is literally bonkers. Hopefully the cap on fees will be abolished as it’s making a mockery of this country.

  3. GBK you will be pleased to hear that the fund has reached ..
    29 days to go
    pledged of £10,000 target by 106 people

  4. The article I saw claimed wheat Jono. And, yes, I noticed that it wasn’t-which is what I referenced in my previous post. So, frown face due, Jono. I do notice the detail. Bit like when some down in Sussex and Surrey play the fracking card in the wrong game.

    • ‘While the dangerous weather of the first half of 2018 has raised concerns worldwide that we are seeing climate change in action, many leading experts told the Guardian they were optimistic that political and business leaders this year would help set the world on a different course to avoid the worse predictions of untrammelled warming.’

      ‘Evidence showing that tackling climate change can be an economic boost rather than a brake has been growing. The recently published New Climate Economy report says more than 65m new low-carbon jobs could be created in just over a decade, and that 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution could be avoided every year by government action on climate change. A further $2.8tn could be added to government revenues by 2030 by reforming perverse incentives to burn fossil fuels.’

      ‘Adopting low-carbon aims now would set developing countries on a course to a brighter future, added Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former economic minister of Nigeria and a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. “Now is the time to do this, before we lock in high-carbon infrastructure,” she said. “Now is the opportunity for real sustainable growth.”

      Political leaders will find that global investors back them up in opting for low-carbon policies, predicted Frank Rijsberman of the Global Green Growth Institute. “I see this from investors, from businesses,” he said. “They are ready, and they see low-carbon as the future.”’

      Bye, bye Shale Gas; hello world!

    • Well Martin , you can blame the media for that , when it first was announced that it was coming to Balcombe the BBC said they would be fracking and in all probability they will have to in the future. The infrastructure bill of 2015 was brought in to change the description of what is fracking to allow industry to do exactly the same process but with a lesser volume of fluids and call it conventional . Oil will not flow through clay and the natural fractures will mean that limited amounts may be recovered before companies have to frack . These minnow companies will not be able to afford to drill the number of wells they need to make a profit without Fracking . Call it what you like , we still say no .

  5. I don’t blame Jono, I just refer to what was reported.

    But then, neither do I claim to be mystic Meg. You might think protesting against a future maybe and then stating it is a reality is the way to go. A dangerous game reference the Weald where I suspect the companies involved are still working through what is required and what is optimum. Maybe in the distant future if they find fracking, in one form or another, helps bring out the dregs, it will all be accepted as nothing to have been worried about!

    That the same BBC who referred to the Gatwick Gusher? Try watching the main BBC News and checking how much is news and how much is speculation. Seems it is very easy to adjust standards to excite an audience. That’s life.

    Anyway, to help your happy mood even further I will leave you alone over the weekend as I have important work to do. Time to process the leek and pot. soup in preparation for that Beast from the East.

  6. I thank the BBC for simply filming the articulate, smartly dressed, well behaved and exceptionally tolerant pro side v the errr well, errr ‘camouflage crew’ and putting it on the main news.
    They do my job for me.

    P. S. hopefully my new pet name for the antis goes through ok as I did count several camoflauge jackets in the report, so more factual than their myths of doomsday, and it’s pretty harmless.

    • “All that glisters is not gold;
      Often have you heard that told:
      Many a man his life has sold
      But their outside to behold:
      Gilded tombs do worms enfold
      Had you been as wise as bold,
      Your in limbs, in judgment old,
      Your answer had not been in’scroll’d
      Fare you well: your suit is cold.’
      Cold, indeed, and labour lost:
      Then, farewell, heat and welcome, frost!”

      ― William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”

      For those whose suits are cold
      For those whose hearts are sold
      For those whose crews that worms enfold
      For those whose image whose schemes they hide

      For those whose camouflage is on the inside……

    • We all know the BBC films and edits items as it’s told to by the government. The day has long gone when the BBC could be trusted to be impartial.I can assure you that there are many antis at PNR who are far better dressed in different circumstances. Standing out in all weather’s isn’t one of them. As far as being articulate is concerned, Cuadrilla’s pat answers, PR speak and downright lies may fool those who wish to be fooled and those who can’t be bothered to do their own research but that’s what all con men are experts at. Some of us aren’t so easily taken in

  7. Full risk assessments have been completed by competent personnel in all relevant parties. It seems to me that some people want more than what the law might require. Perhaps they should employ their own professionals to undertake risk assessments based on facts, not conjecture? No evidence has so far been produced to state that an off-site emergency plan is required by accepted risk assessment processes. What I always find amusing is how the judiciary are condemned one week and then people use them the next week!

    • Phil Seddon
      It is worth reading the various FOI requests linked to Preston Road, to get a flavour of the information requested and the opinions given in those requests, and in particular relating to risk assessments.

      For example, a request to the police re their risk assessment for attending the Preston Road Site, the police are asked if they have made it clear that their officers need to wear H2S devices, as operatives on site have to do so!

      So not so much a request for information but an opinion that they should do so and a request that they do so based on that opinion. You could understand why some answers are a bit slow in coming.

      I would encourage any interested in the various FOI logged against the site on ‘what do they know’ to have a read.

      • Do the operatives on site have to wear H2S detectors? It has been stated on several occasions that there was no H2S seen in the drilling of the two wells.

        • So, hewes, you don’t know if the site “operatives” have to wear H2S detectors, I can’t see any evidence of them in the various film clips, but you make a statement about police officers having to wear them. Stop making stuff up it is really annoying and just shows how little you know and makes you look like a fool!

          • Daniel

            I sometimes may not be totally clear in my meaning but please read on …..

            I have not made a statement that police have to wear H2S detectors at the Preston Road Site.

            As I say in the initial post … in the Freedom of Information request I refer to, the police are asked if they have made it clear to their officers that they need to wear H2S detectors.

            The exact wording is in the request for information submitted by Helen Chuntso. 20 April 2018. See point 5 of that request.

            I suggest you

            1. Re read my initial post
            2. Go to the ‘what we know site’, and search under Either Preston Road or Helen Chuntso to see the request made to the Lancashire Constabulary.
            3. Form you own view on whether that FOI is a reasonable request and in particular you thoughts on section 5 of that request.


            To expand further on my point, Helen says that ‘these monitors are required by persons working inside the well pad’, and provides a link to Public Health Information on the Dangers of Hydrogen Sulphide.

            However that guidance linked to does not refer to drilling, nor the need for persons working on a well Site to wear H2S detectors.

            My view is that Helen is incorrect in her assertion to Lancashire Constabulary that Workers on a well pad have to wear personal H2S detectors, and that her link does not support that assertion.

            Hence her question to Lancashire constabulary is invalid, and hence their difficulty in replying.

            My view of the risk from H2S at that site is that there is not one ( as per past DOD report on the presence of H2S in the Bowland Shale Gas).

            However, were there a risk, the ER response would not rely on persons wearing personal detectors, but the installed gas detection system you would need to install to help counter that risk ( which, inter alia, accounts for it being heavier than air)being a system which would raise the alarm, leading to the site to respond to an H2S alarm as per the ER procedure.

            Hence the assertion that those on site need to wear personal gas detectors in the context of the overall question is also wrong.

            And my conclusion would be that the question to The police is based on an incorrect assumptions as to how ER response to H2S is managed, as well as assuming that there is more of an H2S risk on the site the data available would suggest.

            I am also disappointed that the police response also lacks insight into the issue, and happy to expand on that should anybody be interested.

            Now, it may be that someone on the site had a personal detector, and almost certain that the site had H2S detectors for other operations that may encounter H2S other than from the fracked has.

          • Daniel
            Hope you have managed to read the FOI request and maybe have some thoughts on the issue to share here on DOD?

    • Phil. This is typical immature childish mentality of nimby and anarchic activists. If legally or political decisions go against their wishes then they moan undemocratic blinkers justice system. But if it does then they say the opposite.

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