Legal

Court ruling on Cuadrilla fracking injunction delayed

181011 Bob Dennett

Bob Dennett outside the Royal Courts of Justice, 11 October 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A campaigner will hear tomorrow whether the court injunction against fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool will continue.

Retired businessman, Bob Dennett, secured a temporary block last week (5 October 2018) on the start of fracking. He had submitted concerns to the court that local people would not be protected in an emergency.

This evening, a judge at the High Court in London delayed his ruling until noon tomorrow. Mr Justice Supperstone is also expected to rule on whether Mr Dennett can pursue a judicial review of emergency planning procedures by Lancashire County Council.

The packed court room heard that Cuadrilla had expected to start fracking tomorrow. Nathalie Lieven QC for the company said any delay would cost £94,000 a day. She said Cuadrilla needed to know by midday on Friday where it stood on fracking at Preston New Road.

But Marc Willers QC, for Mr Dennett, said:

“It is imperative that those operations should not commence until there are adequate and effective environmental and health and safety planning and emergency procedures in place.”

He called for the injunction to be kept in place for two weeks while the court considered the case.

Mr Dennett’s argument is that Lancashire County Council had failed to take into account key concerns when it did the risk assessment for Preston New Road. These included the connection of the site to the gas grid and whether there would be enough water to fight any fires.

He argued that the council had failed to inform local people about evacuation plans, as required by legislation. It had also failed, he said, to take a precautionary approach, given that Preston New Road would see the first high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK since 2011.

Mr Willers told the court:

“[There is] a serious issue as to whether or not there is a proper safety regime in place that would cope with and ensure the safety of the local residents in the event of an emergency, in the event of a well blowout or in the event of a major gas leak.

“Cuadrilla as a responsible operator would no doubt not wish to operate in circumstances where it was aware that the risk assessment of the Preston New Road site was inadequate.”

He said attempts to “assuage concerns” of local councillors and local community representatives had not been successful. The community liaison group (CLG) for Preston New Road had been raising issues about emergency planning for a year, he said.

“CLG members expressed concerns that they were not aware of what would happen in the event on an incident at the Cuadrilla site.

“Residents are living in fear. There has been no disclosure to the local community about evacuation plans because of security concerns.”

He said the county council had  duty under the Civil Contingencies Act and Cabinet Office guidance to provide residents with information so that they could make informed decisions. The current lack of information had exacerbated genuine concerns, he said.

“The more information the public have the more prepared they are likely to be.”

The court heard that Lancashire County Council had assessed the site risk as medium. This meant it was covered by generic emergency planning, rather than a multi-agency site-specific plan.

Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council argued that Mr Dennett’s case was not backed up by the evidence.

Ms Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said:

“The case is wholly without merit and is merely a device brought at the last possible moment to try to stop work at Preston New Road.”

She said Preston New Road had been under “long and extremely detailed regulatory scrutiny”.

Lancashire County Council had relied heavily on other agencies, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), she said. The medium risk assessment was based on work carried out by the HSE.

It did not require individual evacuation plans, Ms Lieven said, which she described as “disproportionate” and “potentially give rise to wholly unnecessary public concern”.

She said:

“Any reason for gas leaks from the well, leading to potential fires, have been fully considered and controlled by the HSE.

“Any challenge to the HSE’s judgement is going to be difficult”.

Ms Lieven said the Environment Agency had visited the site on 16 occasions since 2017. The HSE and the EA had visited most recently on 3-4 October.

She said the risk assessment did not need to take into account the gas pipeline because that would not be connected to the grid until 2019.

A recent report by Costain, commissioned by Cuadrilla, concluded that any incident at Preston New Road would have “negligible consequences” beyond 380m from the well, Ms Lieven said.

She also argued that the injunction was “legally misconstrued” and should not be granted.

Cuadrilla could still frack at Preston New Road even if the judicial review was successful because hydraulic fracking consent had been granted by the Secretary of State, rather than Lancashire County Council.

Alan Evans, for Lancashire County Council, said the risk assessment was “based on robust specialist technical expertise”. He said

“There is not any evidence at all that this document is in any way irrational”.

He said Mr Dennett’s grounds for judicial review were “so weak that they do not disclose any serious issue to be tried”, which is necessary for the granting of an interim injunction.

He said the county council was required by the Civil Contingencies Act to maintain arrangements for dealing with emergencies but it was not required to publish them unless an emergency was likely.

“There is clearly embodied in the Act a large element of discretion.”

He said the council had published a summary of the risk in Lancashire, even though it had not published the generic risk assessment.

“This is not a ‘no publication’ case”.

Asked by the judge to define “sensitive receptors”, Mr Evans said they could include schools, which had been sent a briefing note about fracking and operations at Preston New Road.

Mr Evans said he thought the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy should also be represented in the case.

Reporting from this hearing was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

101 replies »

  1. Ruth Hayhurst
    ‏ @ruthhayhurst
    9m9 minutes ago

    High Court judge in Cuadrilla #fracking case rules against Injunction on hydraulic fracturing at Preston New Road shale gas site . More details soon on DrillOrDrop

    Fracking to commence very soon…..

    • Cannot be true!
      The country has gone insane!
      Any insurance cover?
      Wensleys house and k9 Kennels well within the 380metre distance Cuadrilla admitted will be affected by problems during fracking!
      Oh Well!

    • TW – it would appear you are right based on the BBC story:

      “Anti-fracking campaigner Bob Dennett argued in the High Court that Lancashire County Council had failed to properly assess any safety risks.

      But Mr Justice Supperstone said there was “no evidence” to support the claim.”

      • Dismissing the application, the judge said: “The claimant first has to establish that there is a serious issue to be tried.

        “I am satisfied that the claimant falls at the first hurdle.”

        • “He also refused permission for a judicial review of Lancashire County Council’s emergency planning procedures regarding the site, saying he was “entirely satisfied that the claim as formulated is unarguable”.”

    • This injunction wasn’t about Cuadrilla alone. This injunction was about the total arrogance and contempt shown by all those who had it their power to set local residents’ minds at rest by issuing simple information on what action to take n the event of any worrying incident, whatever the cause and however unlikely, which could affect them. They have been left completely in the dark as to how to react if such an event should occur. In spite of constant requests for over a year from concerned locals and councillors, Cuadrilla, the various authorities who would have to deal with such incidents and those who deal with Freedom of Information Requests have hidden behind confidentiality and threats of terrorism. Why all the secrecy if the site is considered to be only as dangerous as a filling station?

      • Why all the worry if the site is as dangerous as a “filling station”. I think the campaigners who use fear as a campaigning strategy should think about how they affect local residents.

        • If that was the analogy, then this is more worrying than ever, Dr Nick. There is a game being played here with words and descriptions, metaphors and similes; this is only the tool of the PR machine; it does not reflect reality.

          Well done Bob and Helen for giving it a go; you were clearly up against the machine.

          ‘Jonathan Bartley, the Green party co-leader, said the court verdict was a “real blow”, coming just days after a UN climate report said fossil fuel use must be cut dramatically to avoid dangerous global warming.

          He vowed to continue his opposition to fracking and said public attitudes were hardening against the industry.

          “We will fight on. It means direct action. We’ll be taking the fight to the fracking companies,” Bartley told the Guardian outside the court.’

          With the new IPCC report, it will be interesting to see what bullshit is spouted from the fossil supporters in the reaction meeting next Monday.

          4379 days to go……

          • “We will fight on. It means direct action. We’ll be taking the fight to the fracking companies,” Bartley told the Guardian outside the court.’

            Is Jonathan Bartley heading to HMP as well? I doubt it, he will get someone else to take the “direct action”.

            [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

            • You clearly underestimate the passion for saving the planet Paul; just because your group don’t see through your shades, it does not mean all humans think like you. Three young men in jail….how many suffragettes went through this process, how many behind Mandela et al?

          • Sherwulfe, At the original LCC planning meeting the issue of safety was raised by campaigners. The Chief Planning Officer at that time pointed out that the road passing the site carried many vehicles carrying much more hazardous loads than for fracking fluids. he referred to fuel tankers & the vehicles carrying nuclear fuel rods, routinely using that road.

            • And did he neglect to mention that the only experience Cuadrilla has of fracking in the WHOLE world was at Preese Hall where Eric pulled the lever too hard to get a minuscule of gas?

              Like the TLS was supposedly, and now that plan thrown out of the window, meant to ramp up the shakey shakey slowly, the risk should have started as very high – having put children in charge of this operation – until proven otherwise; but that would be common sense 😉

        • Dr Nick Riley. It was the authorities that have deemed the site to pose the same level of threat as a filling station, medium risk, NOT the locals who have to endure it. One has to wonder why there was such reluctance to publish information under the numerous FOI requests though, even mentioning it would aid terrorists, if the site is considered so innocuous.

          • Pauline, You need to insert “some of” between your words “NOT” & “the locals”. As regarding FOI requests – there are protocols on how much can be responded to with an FOI request & the timeline within which an FOI request has to be responded to. So you would have to ask the bodies that the FOI requests were posed to, if they did not respond appropriately. They need to be addressed to the appropriate public body/agency. I have no idea who introduced the terrorist argument – I have never done that.

    • Paul, as you well know, there is no future for any more fossil fuel; that the expansion of this industry into anything ‘like’, and I use the word loosely, commercial will be challenged at every turn. Seven years to get to this and the political tide turning; this PR exercise is just to keep Egan’s salary for another year.

      • Sherwulfe – I have always said that I do not think this will be commercial / developed in the UK, population density to high, infrastructure (roads) issues etc. But I still want to see the exploration phase go ahead. And see how the TLS / seismicity works out. Plus the flow rates will be interesting. They may be higher than anticipated. And 15,000 ft horizontals are quite common in the US now.

        • Be careful what you wish for Paul; this is not some sideshow or a computer generated sim, we are talking the lives of real people to satisfy the egos of some? Not acceptable.

          I would like to see the world pull together to save billions of lives? At the moment this egoistic desire seems unlikely to be fulfilled…..

        • Hi Paul,
          Previous posts actually proved that drones need licences etc. only if they are used for commercial purposes! The drone you refer to is for environmental protection purposes so not required.

        • Hi Paul.
          A 15000ft horizontal, that is about 3 miles. Excellent. Will easily reach that fancy new £21million police headquarters!

      • You mean all this pressure to frack at PNR and the answers to the questions you pose above are not even known. What a waste

          • Because we hear regularly about the US and what happens over there. Compare the two photos. And of course the contractor is Schlumberger in both cases. Different set up / equipment for different legaslative regimes (gold plated and tin foil).

            • Presumably you mean fool’s gold PT; did you know that gold is not a scarce resource and that it’s ‘value’ has been escalated via the virtual world of money….not a great analogy.

    • Whoops! Dear me, its like feeding day at the zoo isnt it?

      And the relevance of this odd USA photo is what Paul Tresto?

      Is that a Gallopin’ Perry family photo?

      Are you the one painted green?

      I always knew you were green at something?

      Or is that the green eyed goddess herself?

      • The logo on the trucks Phil C – it seems you and Sherwulfe missed it…..

        Better stay away from parking meters from now on, and certain wines from Alsace…..

            • whaaat? is that some kind of justification?…hell guys, it’s Schlumberger – they make your wine [make sure you save the green bottle for MC] and take money off you to park; well that’s okay then! Go for it!

            • Tut tut! Shares is it?

              I really dont know if MC takes any bottles?

              Oh, i see what you mean? There are connotations there that i would rather avoid?

              Unless you are referring to the contents?

              Hopefully the bottles are for recycling?

              Except for the green ones of course, those are lined up on a wall and knock down again?

              Apparently that has some nursery rhyme connotation?

              Well it the closest to a rhyme that is possible in those circumstances I suppose?

              So at least something to be saved from the event?

        • What are you on about?

          its seems the anti antis are getting more obscure and irrational every day Paul?

          I see no logos to get all excited about? That is martins territory, i sure he has an interminable personal fantasy to write reams about dead wiesels and gassed badgers if you ask him nicely enough? No tongues though?

          Sorry i dont use the obligatory total reality black out industry blinkers Paul? Please do elucidate.

          Parking meters? Are you quite all right?

          Oh, silly question?

          Are you quite all left?

          I dont drink alcohol or smoke or take anything hallucinatory Paul, perhaps you could eludidate, or hauicinate for me on that too?

          We seem to have wandered through a convex fracking gas mirror into some Malice in Blunderland fantasy world populated with talking rigs with pot smoking caterpillar logo trucks and a grinning Lancashire flat cat fat cat frack hat?

          Hope you guys sleep it off?

          • Not my fault if you guys just dont have the capacity to understand anything much other than take take take and give nothing back? No understanding or capacity to appreciate the historical and modern legacy of this glorious culture of literature, history, poetry and language?

            As for understandable, perhaps you could explain to me something that has always puzzled me?

            assuming you yourselves are human beings, living on a finite planet that has a quite fragile ecosystem that allows us all to breath, eat drink clean sources provided by a life giving sun. And that sun provides everything, and all that you guys grub up out of the ground to make your great god money from?

            Just why, in so many words, are you so determined to plunge that same generously granted fragile ecology, into a dark burned out polluted world that your and my children will curse you forever for doing so?

            Because for intelligences sake, i can make neither head not tail of any such suicidal nightmare intention?

            When all this has gone, money wont save you or your children or my children?

            Now if you want to do this just to yourselves, then fine go down that slippery slope and.suffer the consequences….

            But, and this is the killer, literally, you want to do that to my children too.

            And i aint having that my friend, not for one goddamn stinking dollar on the pound.

            • To quote a Kisheny post on DOD:

              “WASHINGTON—In a landmark report experts say fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the global warming crisis, new data published this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that the phenomenon is caused primarily by the actions of 7 billion key individuals.
              These several billion individuals, who IPCC officials confirmed are currently operating in 195 countries worldwide, are together responsible for what experts called the “lion’s share” of the devastating consequences of global warming affecting the entire planet.
              “Our research has proved conclusively that, year after year, the acceleration of the rate of global warming and the damage caused by this man-made acceleration can be clearly linked to 7 billion main culprits,” explained lead author Dr. John Bartlett, noting that many of these individuals have links to climate change going back nearly a century. “Worse, the significant majority of damage was done within the past two decades, when the consequences of climate change were widely known and yet these specific individuals did nothing to curb or amend their practices.”
              “Now that we’ve done the hard work of identifying the key players responsible for this crisis, we can move forward with holding them accountable,” Bartlett added. “And it is my opinion that we need to regulate these individuals swiftly and decisively before they do any more damage.”
              According to policy analysts, urgent regulation is needed in order to monitor and govern the behavior of these targeted individuals, who experts say collectively commit as much as 100 percent of violations to the environment each year.
              Researchers have isolated numerous instances of environmentally harmful activity committed by these 7 billion perpetrators in the past few decades alone, identifying practices such as using electric lights, shipping packages, traveling by car, traveling by air, buying clothes, washing clothes, using heat, using air conditioning, buying food, buying water, eating meat, commuting to work, shopping, exercising at the gym, disposing of waste, operating computers, operating televisions, operating other household electronic appliances, and showering—alarming activities that experts say show no signs of remitting.
              In addition, IPCC officials confirmed that billions of pounds per year in waste products can be traced to these 7 billion individuals alone.
              “We’re actually looking at a situation where a select group of individuals—7,125,985,886 of them, to be exact—are singlehandedly responsible for global warming and are refusing to do anything about it,” author and activist Dan Cregmann told reporters, noting that these culprits have a horrible track record of following recommended environmental guidelines and disclosing their total energy consumption. “Many of these offenders have of course pledged goals for fighting climate change and going green in their daily operations, but statistics show these proclamations have been largely ineffective and halfhearted at best.”
              At press time, IPCC officials confirmed that, since their report was released this morning, 153,007 more individuals had been added to the list of top contributors to global warming.”

              FOE (Enemies of Industry) claim 2 million members world wide. Impressive but not enough to make any difference. The RSPB has 1 million in the UK. If you think drilling and testing a few wells in the Fylde / Yorkshire / Midlands and the Weald makes any difference to anything other than local impacts on house prices and traffic then you are wrong. You will find the odd local protestor who gives up the 4×4 for the school run but very few. Sherwulfe clearly leads by example but 99.9% of the UK will not adopt his way of living.

              Thank you for writing in plain English for a change…..

            • Pity you dont do the same Paul?.

              You are not getting away with that Paul, dont think you can just repeat by copy and paste reams of the bits you want to as if that is an answer, it is not, nice try no fracking cigar,

              I read it as you very well know, and its rubbish, the prime contributor to global warming, climate change or whatever diminished term they come up with next time, is industry, and its industry which is the major contributor to toxic waste, pollution and emissions and contributor to climate change because it will not obey self regulations, and that has always been the case and it has always been the problem, think of “old permissions” and the total lack of accountability, back to Third Enemy again.

              And i answered it, as you also very well know, i said this:

              “But some “contributors” are more guilty than others…..” That mirror again Paul.

              But i notice you didn’t copy that, which is typical behaviour coming from such a biased and partial source, of ignoring anything you don’t want to see because it doesn’t fit the industry agenda.

              Which is true, most of the worlds population lives below the poverty zone, still, and that is why the eugenics card is always being played by the anti antis.

              Tough.

              You still have not answered my direct question, try again, and not by copying other peoples drivel.

              “Just why, in so many words, are you so determined to plunge that same generously granted fragile ecology, into a dark burned out polluted world that your and my children will curse you forever for doing so?”

              Answer that.

            • “Just why, in so many words, are you so determined to plunge that same generously granted fragile ecology, into a dark burned out polluted world that your and my children will curse you forever for doing so?”

              My children won’t, they understand the issues, they have worked and lived abroad, and actually work in the O & G Industry. You tell us all how we avoid fossil fuels for the next 40 years and we will all be happy to do so. There is not one genuine forecast that does not include natural gas past 2050.

              If you switch all the world’s coal to gas tomorrow, then increase nuclear to = global baseload, and throw in 50% renewables – output not capacity (make sure there is enough back up in gas generation), stop cutting down trees, plant millions more, we might get near +1.5degC.

              And you tell the billions of people that want they can’t have…..

              And tell the millions of Africans that they should go back to charcoal and not switch to LPG / CNG for cooking? What would you like them to cook on? Solar & batteries? Good luck, we tried that when I was working in Africa.

            • ahh yes; a post from ‘Kisheny the Impartial’ – more likely to see this on wiki…oh hang on isn’t that where he gets this from…….

            • You still havent answered the question Paul, you just answered a different redacted question that suits your narrative.

              The question was, to remind you, this:

              “Just why, in so many words, are you so determined to plunge that same generously granted fragile ecology, into a dark burned out polluted world that your and my children will curse you forever for doing so?”

              I don’t deny anyone anything Paul, in fact i would do entirely the opposite, and i would give them the respect and the freedom to make their own self determination, not enforce a poisonous industry on them whether they want it or not, as this industry and our own government does to us. Meanwhile i would enable this human race to climb out of its enforced dark age politics and corporate industrial hegemony and make cheap renewable energy available to all, so that we can begin to clean up this planet and repair the damage of centuries of ecological abuse.

              those that insist on fossil fuels would be allowed to continue provided they do not enforce their “one rule” on anyone else and eventually they will see that the alternatives are more intelligent and renewable and they will move over too.

              but you have ignored all that, because that is just you trying to “reframe” the question and ignore the solution.

              It is this industry and with government propped up oiligarchy which denies renewables and chokes off research and development and i have shown you many new innovations in renewable energy that will easily replace fossil fuels within less than twenty years with no impact on infrastructure and the environment, and not plunge the world into another Permian style extinction cycle. but as usual you ignore that because it doesn’t suit the agenda.

              My children know what the dangers of climate change are and the grandchildren will learn by direct experience the legacy this industry has enforced upon them whether they like it or not…not.

              We will be sure to educate them when they are old enough to learn that there are people in the world that simply do not care for them or anyone or anything else, just so long as they get their thirty pieces of bitcoin and bottles of Slumburger. (deliberate spelling).

              Have a nice weekend, and do try to actually answer the question that was asked, not the redacted version.

  2. Can the PNR anti drone take some photos of the wellsite so we can assess the readiness to frack on the site? Ruth can post them on DOD.

  3. Was always going to happen. That’s the antis lost any underlying support of the general public as the myth busters have taken over.

    • Keep telling yourself that GBH, you might believe it one day, no one else does, and all this has done is to deliver the sheer arrogance of this poisonous industry and its compromised government private servants to the media’s attention.

      You are doing our job for us, keep up the anti anti rhetoric, anyone reading this will see who is telling the truth about the effects of this fossil fuel insanity on the climate and this year we have all seen the results.

      The record of this industry has been dire and poisonous right around the entire planet, it will be no different here with self regulation and compliant non existent regulators and government railroading to please there off shore funding masters.

      People have died in the making of this lesson….

      WAKE UP!

  4. Oh, I will Sherwulfe. Sorry to cause you more pain but the rest of the majority will be very interested. You can ask Jack for a loan of his 2013 Dead Sea Scrolls if the minority still want some alternative excitement.

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