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. Norway is leading Europe on deploying low carbon energy. This in depth debate demonstrates that gas will be in the energy mix for many decades to come. My only gripe with the programme is that they ignored Norway’s huge thorium resource in this debate.

    The delay in deploying shale gas exploration & testing, has so far failed to stop a single molecule of natural gas being burnt , that would have been burnt anyway.

    • This is the same Norway that threw Greenpeace out of Court so Norway could continue to explore for oil and Gas in the Arctic Circle as the ice cap melts and allows futher access???

      Is this the same Norway that is investing in Offshore wind in Scotland to suck U.K subsidies out of U.K home owners energy bills to pay for wind farms that without subsidies would take 50 years to pay for themselves but are scrap after 20 years???

      Is this the same Norway that has bought Chevrons stake into the major U.K oil field off Shetland???

      Is this the same Norway that has changed its state owned oil Company name from Statoil to Equinor… Nothing to do with oil Guv, honest…

      As for all you Wind Turbine enthusiasts… Oh dear…

      Looks like the latest research into this form of energy is uncovering some truths, remember the turbines are scrap after 20 to 25 years and need disposing of and replacing… Read on…

          • ‘The UK needs more renewable energy, not more fossil fuels. Politicians must realise that climate change needs to be brought under control starting NOW, not some time after they are out of office.’ – Eva supporting the injunction…..

            • ‘I wish my taxes were contributing to this injunction rather than contributing to the need for this case.’ – Felicity supporting the injunction

            • ‘We have worked hard in Scotland to stop this monstrous process. You have my support and well done for standing up for what is right. ✌️’ – Catherine supporting the injunction…..

            • Scotland have a moratorium, a temporary prohibition of shale Gas exploration.

              Nicola is sitting on the fence until Cuadrilla produce Gas and The Government make Shale Gas of National Importance.

              At this point the SNP will say Westminster has forced this upon them and Scotland will frack for shale Gas and reap the financial reward. Win Win for the SNP…

              If the SNP were serious about banning shale gas they would have put this into LAW and not a moratorium leaving an opportunity to change there position. More Gloss than on Nicolas lips…

              What is £7,765? are you saving up to have plastic Chinese solar panels shipped to your wooden hut???

            • £8,235 going up and up
              ‘I hope the law supports you. If not ,history certainly will.’ David supporting the injunction
              ‘There’s a lot of support for your cause’ – Jennifer supporting the injunction
              ‘Great work – I just wish I could afford to give thousands!’ – Barry supporting the injunction
              ‘We live about twenty miles from the fracking site but because it’s an hour and half by road we haven’t had a say in this. Happy to support you.’ – Pam supporting the injunction
              …and on and on and on…..

          • £9855 now, but I’m a bit puzzled why only 404 people from across the UK have pledged support.
            I was of the understanding that the 1,201,855 population of Lancashire said no, you would have thought that they would have been a bit more supportive, do you not think?

            • John Harrison.
              If the likes of Fylde Rugby Club and AFC Fylde hadn’t promoted the lies told by Cuadrilla, the toxic Tory government both past and present and the fake news national media, indeed the gullible residents of Lancashire might have realised their intended fate of guinea pigs earlier.
              Oh well, the truth about the damage done by the fracking process and the lack of realistic insurance cover to recompense the thousands of Fylde residents whose health, homes and businesses interests are in peril will be raised in Court shortly.
              Thus together with this morning’s warning from eminent Scientists that the burning of fossil fuels must be stopped in totality if the human race is to avoid catastrophe should be enough to close this new to us fossil fuel industry down before it commences!
              I’m sure you and your buddy Francis Egan know better of course but I think your Investors will be coming to their senses before too long!

    • I hope Cuadrilla are sticking to the rules of the injunction by which they are bound.

      “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.”

      If they are not doing as they have been told they may be liable to have their assets seized.

      Not a good position to be in right now. Very costly and yet another worry for investors.

  2. Sherwulfe
    Major accidents are low probability, hence the blue light services cope as they do not happen very often.
    The addition of one well Site in Lancashire is small compared to the various risks that Lancashire has.

    They are more likely to be called put to a motorway pile up ( multiple fatalities, fire etc ) than a major event from a dual well Site.

    The NHS worry more about a winter flu epidemic.

    However, should fracking take off, then it would be a wise move to review the available ER capability in Lancashire.

    • hewes; it’s not about the frequency it’s about the what if; you cannot say we did not have a plan, or, we did not have the resources for the plan, when that moment happens.

      You only have to look to large scale production of oil and gas onshore – they have their own dedicated teams that cost millions nay billions to manage; we really don’t have this level of support or specialist equipment.

      The residents of a certain tower block in London never believed for one moment it would become a death trap. That plan was inadequate and under resourced.
      Be sensible

      • Sherwulfe
        I disagree on a few points there.
        In brief,

        LCC have a plan, they exercise it ( its generic ).

        For offshore uk oil and gas, it’s a fascinating subject, but offshore you only have your platform crew to deal with immediate danger, your SBV and one rescue a couple of rescue and recovery helicopters that cover all of the N.Sea ( from North of Shetland to South of GT Yarmouth.

        The tower block fire is interesting, but it is not particularly relevant to oil and gas fires ( better to look at Buncefield ). However, it is a good example to show the differing needs of various scenarios, and where failures in design vs ER response interact.

        For example. The stay in place advice for tower block fires worked fine until recently. The local response plan ( which they had ) did not seem flexible enough to change when local fire fighters sensed it was wrong in that case ….and so on.

        But, to make my point ( or to do it justice ) I need to go to the laptop to cut and paste stuff from various places, including the minutes of the Preston Road liaison committee, the resilience forum publications and a few reports I guess. It has been well discussed by IOSH and various engineering forums ( which I read and attend ).

        I do not disagree that the blue light services have funding issues

        However, Mrs H says I must do some chores rather than writing on the I pad, plus it’s the in mother in law birthday and I am driving, so maybe more today or tomorrow.

        • Sherwulfe
          Plus I seem to be attracting the ire of some pro frackers / pro weald oil persons, and am minded to reply to them first.
          Always good that ones opinions are challenged by both sides, as if not, things would be too cosy I guess.

    • Hewes 62.
      Possibly the first two underpowered test wells will not cause too much if any damage initially.
      However turning the Fylde peninsula into the largest onshore oroduction by fracking gasfield in Europe most definitely will! As this is obviously the intention this result is what must be prevented
      Remember today’s warning from eminent Scientists that the fracking industry and all other fossil fuel extraction operations must be stopped urgently to avoid a catastrophe!

      • Peter
        Yes, a larger collection of wells would require more assessment re cumulative risk than the existing two.

        • But why risk contamination of water and other problems before examining whether the full product production effects would be acceptable?
          Totally crazy and very scary for us locals who know!

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