Breaking: Court clears the way for first UK frack for seven years – Cuadrilla says it starts tomorrow

pnr 181005 danny vc llew 2

Fracking equipment ready for use at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 5 October 2018. Photo: Danny Vc Llew

Cuadrilla has said it plans to start fracking tomorrow (13 October 2018) at its site near Blackpool after a judge at the High Court refused to extend an injunction against the operation.

In a ruling this afternoon, Sir Michael Supperstone also dismissed an application for a judicial review of emergency planning procedures at the site.

The decision clears the way for the first high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK since 2011 and the first UK frack of a horizontal shale gas well.

But campaigners who brought the case said immediately they would apply to overturn the ruling at the Court of Appeal.

The only likely block on fracking tomorrow will be high winds and rain from Storm Callum that could delay the operation until Monday.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said in a statement after the ruling:

“We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned. We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire.”

181012 rcj dod 2

Bob Dennett outside the Royal Courts of Justice, 12 October 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

But Fylde retired businessman, Bob Dennett, who brought the case against Lancashire County Council, said:

“We have been advised there are two clear errors in the determination of the judge that leaves the way open for us to take the case to the Court of Appeal. We remain defiant. This started in Lancashire. We are going to finish it in Lancashire.”

The injunction was issued last Friday when Mr Dennett submitted court papers in which he said he feared the county council’s emergency plans would not protect local residents if there was an incident at the site.

His case was the council had not adequately assessed the risk from the site or communicated appropriately with local people about what would happen in an emergency.

But Sir Michael said today the case was not supported by the evidence before the court. In his ruling he said:

“I am satisfied that the negative risks have been properly considered by the appropriate regulatory bodies.”

The court had heard that the Preston New Road site has been assessed by the council as medium risk, which meant there was no need for a site-specific multi-agency emergency plan.The

Sir Michael said:

“I am satisfied that the assessment of the risk is medium has been properly reached on the evidence.”

He also said the council was not required to publish its procedures. He said he accepted the council’s case that the Civil Contingencies Act gave officers considerable discretion about what it showed to the public. He said:

“The evidence before this court does not support the contention that the council is in breach of its duty to the public.”

He said the council had published a brochure about emergency planning in the county and there was a website for residents about how to prepare for emergencies.

Sir Michael refused the application to continue the injunction or to challenge by judicial review the emergency planning procedures.

181012 rcj dod1

Helen Chuntso outside the Royal Courts of Justice, 12 October 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Helen Chuntso, a researcher who has investigated the procedures for Preston New Road said outside the court that the judge had interpreted the law incorrectly.

“The judge’s ruling puts him directly in opposition to cabinet office guidance on the statutory duty to publish information about emergency plans.”

She said the general brochure made no reference to hydraulic fracturing or what the local community should do in the event of an explosion or blow out at Preston New Road. She added:

“We will continue to fight the effects of fracking on this community. We will take this to the Court of Appeal”.

Ms Chuntso added that the campaigners would pursue the case on the grounds of “a previously undisclosed and questionable risk assessment” and the council’s failure to consult and publish its emergency plans.

Yesterday, the court heard that any delay in fracking would cost Cuadrilla £94,000 a day. Mr Egan said today the first results from fracking are expected in about three months. He said in a statement:

“If commercially recoverable this [shale gas] will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK.

“The hydraulic fracturing process will take approximately three months to complete for both horizontal exploration wells. Cuadrilla will then test the flow of natural gas from those two wells with initial results expected in the New Year.”

Planning rules limit fracking at Preston New Road to 8am-6pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturday.

Cuadrilla is planning to frack about 45 sections of the well. Each section is 15-50m long and will take about 90 minutes. The first stage is furthers from the pad and successive fracks will work backwards along the well.

More reaction

Shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey

“It’s a scandal that the government has been allowed to force through fracking at any cost.”

Frack Free Lancashire

“The court decision is hugely disappointing. Our local councillors have been demanding information about emergency procedures for months now and fracking is about to begin at the site.

“The case was all about the failure of Lancashire County Council to provide adequate Emergency Evacuation procedures, and have public consultation and communication into Civil Contingency plans in the event of an explosion or gas leak at the Preston New Road fracking site.

“Given that an emergency situation at the site could impact health, threaten natural resources, or require evacuation, and particularly with the close proximity of a number of schools, it is unthinkable that Lancashire County Council or our government should have considered allowing Cuadrilla to go ahead with fracking without the local community being fully aware of what would happen in the event of an accident on site.

“The recent pipeline explosion in British Columbia resulted in an evacuation zone extending over several kilometres – there were just 100 people in that area: in the equivalent zone near the PNR site there would be thousands if not tens of thousands

“Cuadrilla can now carry on regardless, ignoring the urgent warning issued this week by the IPCC about the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but all of the fracking companies need to know that fracking will never get a foothold in the UK because they will meet resistance at every stage of their projects.”

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party

“A new fossil fuel frontier has been opened in Britain. In the same week the UN warned we have little more than a decade to tackle climate change, this ruling has paved the way for the first fracking in seven years.

“To stand any chance of hitting climate targets we must keep all fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. Fracking is a dirty, dangerous industry and I stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave residents standing up for the safety of their community today.

“We are deeply disappointed by this ruling, but the anti-fracking movement is stronger than ever and we will not give up this fight until Britain is frack free. It’s time the Government ditched its reckless dash for gas and invested instead in a renewable revolution of solar, wind and tidal power.”

Green Party MEP, Keith Taylor

“I want to thank campaigners for their efforts in the High Court; I share their disappointment with the outcome. But we must remember that, ultimately, it is the government’s full-throated and blind support for fracking, despite all the evidence, that has led us to this point. It is a sad day for democracy, for residents and for our planet. It proves we cannot trust the Tories on climate change.”

“This week, climate scientists from across the globe pleaded with world leaders to take unprecedented action to divest from fossil fuels and decarbonise their economies to avert the very worst effects of a climate breakdown that is already in progress [2]. Today, a government-backed bid to revive a dangerous and destructive fracking industry in England, against the wishes of the local community and local authority, has been given the green light.”

“For all their warm words and greenwashing, the Tories have been conspiring with their friends in the filthy fossil fuel industry all along. Ministers’ climate denial is insidious and disastrous.”

“Britain under the Tories is a genuinely terrifying place. The ignorance of evidence and the pursuit of climate-destructive policies at any cost imperils any future we hope to build for the generations to come. History will not judge the Tories kindly. Greens will continue standing on the frontlines of the fight to protect our planet and keep supporting all of those brave heroes like the Frack Free Four who have put their lives and liberty on the line to do the same”

Lee Petts, chair at Lancashire For Shale

“We’re very pleased that the High Court has sensibly rejected this last-minute challenge from campaigners. The industry’s expert regulators at the Health & Safety Executive and Environment Agency are satisfied with emergency response arrangements, and I think it’s time people trusted them to look after us.”

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

Categories: Legal

83 replies »

  1. Helen Chuntso practices Chinese medicine as a profession yet is lecturing a HC Judge on facts of law? Oooook then.
    Google has been a great tool in many ways but has also led many to become self proclaimed experts and to self diagnose, oh look my headaches from listening to antis are apparently cured solely by ancient Chinese medicine. I’ll maybe pass on consuming ground tiger bone though.

    • I wonder where you think the medical profession and it’s ‘cure alls’ began GBK? Perhaps the last cure for your condition has just gone up in a puff of proverbial smoke?

      • Yes Sher we can all read about history, well done.
        My point still stands. I sense a feeling of sadness from you today. Chill out, put your feet up and enjoy the weekend ahead 😊

        • So you has misread again….no surprise.
          No, just incredible admiration from those who continue the fight; the only sadness is for you and yours; enjoy your ‘bubbly’ [make sure its made from your buddy’s Schlumberge] and have a great weekend yourself, life goes on;
          for another 12 years at best.

          36.5% renewable energy grid generation right now….
          ….not likely to chill with all this free wind powering my home 🙂

          • Sherwulfe. If you look at the latest published energy statistics for the UK (July 2018 – giving a complete analysis of 2017), you will see that renewables only provided @10% of UK energy demand. Take a look at the load factors for solar in particular – that solar PV farm near PNR will not even cover its own embedded carbon in “avoided” CO2 emissions. So whether you like it or not you better be grateful for gas for some time to come.

            • Scherwulfe – I agree that renewables need ramping up, but in order to do this requires much more technological development & infrastructure to get from fossil/nuclear mix 90% down to 10%. It also requires renewables suitable for our natural resources & for solar PV, they are very poor at our latitude & coudiness. The UK’s 10% average annual load factor for Solar PV is very poor. If the campaigners are so committed to renewables – why don’t they do something positive and crowd fund R&D instead of wasting money on being policed and incurring costly legal challenges?.

            • ‘they are very poor at our latitude & coudiness’ – no we have done this dead herring before.

              Grateful; no

              When humans first lit tobacco and all was fun and trendy, then there was no remiss; a century later and the big C.

              So let’s cut the crap and speed up the slow waltz to the inevitable? Why bother cutting emissions at all if you do not sign up to the devastation?

              You are in conflict; cut the industry strings, you are an intelligent person?

            • Can you reference your statement regarding ‘for solar PV, they are very poor at our latitude & coudiness’; it’s a big report and on a quick read can only find references to a fluctuation in one period. Also this report is based on what we have and does not forecast a change as there is no political will to do this. It is easy to marginalize a technology when not adequately deployed.

              Can you also take time to study the IPCC and it’s warnings. There is a trade off and a technology shortfall for sure, but whilst the oil and gas industry cover the governance with dead herrings we cannot transition in time.

              Regarding ‘that solar PV farm near PNR will not even cover its own embedded carbon in “avoided” CO2 emissions’ can you compare that to the equivalent generation of carbon from gas? That would make a better discussion.

            • Sherwulfe. Thank you for getting back to me. In the link Go to page 163. Look at chart 6.7 on that page. Look at the bottom of the chart & solar PV. Consistently at 10% load factor or less since 2011. Indeed slightly falling. 10% load factor means a 1KWh panel on average in the UK gives only 100 watts/per hour. The go to this link . Look at the graph UK is in the lowest 3 for solar energy reaching the land surface. You can look at this map published by the EU. Solar PV is only really effective in the brown areas – e,g southern Spain. Just to give you the context the pale green of SW Englannd receives 30% more solar energy at the land surface than the blue of Shetland. Most marketing material about PV is based on California – which is at the latitude of N Africa.

            • Nick; I am not a lover of solar farms, for me they are not efficient and take away from land use. What I would like to see is all new eligible homes with solar roofs and house batteries, insulated and with triple glazing; all older eligible homes able to access a ‘student’ loan type finance to upgrade insulation/install photovoltaics with house batteries. No home should ask for electricity from the grid for basics they can generate themselves.

              As a user of renewable energy for over 20 years I can more than generate enough power for the basics of lights, tv’s computers etc at all times, which seem to be the items most cannot do without; why are we even using gas to make electricity in the 21st century when, by combination of the above and offshore and onshore wind we can more than cover our electricity generation needs, using interconectors from renewable sources e.g Norway and at a push [my other pet hate, nuclear] for the ‘I can’t cope with organizing myself better, individuals’? Gas from the North Sea can then be used only for heating, and if your home is well insulated, coupled with the increase in mean temperature due to already a lift of 1 degree C pre-industrial with the mindset of jumpers not shorts in winter, we wont need much at all.

              Commentators talk about self-sufficiency of energy on here – trade agreements aside – with this infrastructure in place, this is the only way forward if we are to keep below 1.5 degrees over pre-industrial levels. Cuadrilla’s losses over the weekend, ironically due to high wind speeds would have installed 20 homes with solar generators and back up store.

              Fail and we are responsible for the consequences of mass migration [see if you can meet their needs?], conflict and food shortages in just 12 years, never mind lost of species and land mass.

              There is a lot of work to be done to save what we can of the planet, and it has to be done now, and fast; we cannot wait for more chat, dead herrings for profit or diversions.

              Your carbon capture would be a benefit to the fossil fuel industry if it works, however is not up to speed as yet. Given the lifespan of a renewable generator with current technologies, it makes sense to maximise now, then over time if CC works can phase back some FF using better technologies and habits; also if the wind turbines are still an eyesore for some [as compared to that industrial photo of a fracking site!], these can be reduced in number by better and more efficient machines- we know this tech has come on so much, what will it look like in 25 years?

              You still have not calculated the fossil fuel consequences of the solar farm you mention, if this was generated by shale, I believe the methane emissions alone would tip the balance.

              It says a lot that the stats for solar are predominantly a guesstimate as is stand alone of electricity generation of non-commercial wind turbines.

              Past statistics are all well and good to inform investors, of the now, but if the investment is in the wrong commodity then we all lose. I will check out your references; interestingly there have been statistical references with demonstrate the better economics of renewables for the future posted on DOD which the pro-frackers run a mile from.

              The report you cite is a government report, and their mantra just now is ‘keep going with fracking despite all its shortfalls’, withdrawing support for green generation and use; in my book this demonstrates they are nothing short of climate deniers.

          • Ramp up intermittent renewables???

            What are you afraid of?
            Err if you fill the Countryside with wind turbines and solar panels at huge cost to the bill payer then there is no wind for weeks on end and not much sunshine in Winter and you’ve made the whole Country install electric air source heat pumps and rip their Gas boilers out.

            No heat and no electricity…

            That’s what scares the energy industry…

            • Nope; just the loss of your job……but you could retrain. Yet another ostrich comment.
              Ramp up the fossils, heat up the planet; oops, now it doesn’t matter what the countryside looks like cos it’s all dead, oh and so are we……..

  2. Don’t forget to sign up for Green GB week celebrating 10 years of paying lip service to the CCA. Launched today by the Duplici-Tory Government.

    [Typo corrected by moderator]

    • I have invested money in Thrive (formerly Triodos) Renewables, which is mostly involved in on-shore wind (wind being free and abundant but the Tories do not want), in Stockport Hydro, River Bains Hydro, and smaller investments in bio-gas and tidal energy. I do not drive or fly, I have a small carbon footprint, including water which I harvest and re-use. If people’s pension providers invested in renewables instead of fossil fuels (Greater Manchester Pension Fund being heavily invested in fossil fuel), along with our politicians doing more to support renewables and energy efficiency, we would be a lot better off!

        • Cheers, but I am not alone and there are a lot of people who would like to invest in renewables, especially community initiatives. Of course, there are many others, who, due to Government sanctions, the bedroom tax and other actions against the poorest. Along with how those on meters or pay week to to week, are penalised by the main energy suppliers, whilst those who have money and waste energy, pay less for it! Thrive Renewables has just posted an update on Linkedin

          • I think you’ll find Patrick importing vast amounts of Gas from foreign shores increases your bills coupled with 9% of your household energy bill being subsidies for so called green energy. Drax Biomass is classed as green energy! Emitting more CO2 than burning coal!!!
            By producing our own Gas tax revenue from these Companies will help the Government achieve the energy price cap… As for investing in intermittent renewables why is Swansea council investing £Millions in foreign fracking operations and not their incredibly expensive white elephant tidal lagoon trying to make the tax payer suffer???


      • That’s Labour run Greater Manchester Council with close to one £Billion invested in fracking operations…

        And still people honestly believe if the Labour Party gained power that they would turn their back on £Billions in revenue to the Treasury from U.K Shale Gas???

        The Labour Party issued the shale Gas exploration licences!!!

        If The Labour Party are so against U.K Shale gas why are a lot of their Councils prepared to invest their pensions in it.

        Local Councils in the U.K have invested pension pots totalling


        Do people honestly believe if there is a successful U.K Shale Gas industry operating in the U.K paying £Millions in tax revenue to the Treasury that if Labour gained power they would just shut it down???

        Even the most ardent anti shale gas protester would agree that Labour would continue with U.K Shale Gas…

        This is what the antis realise, that when U.K Shale Gas is being produced safely no matter what Party is elected it will continue…

  3. The ER issue will no doubt continue to roll on, injunction or not, and fracking or not.

    Good that people are putting on their thinking caps re major accident hazards.

    The risks from high pressure gas pipelines, COMAH sites, chemical spills, fuel station fires, Nuclear events, dam failures, and so on existed before fracking came along and will still be there if it goes away. And that will not alter with a change of ruling party.

    It would be interesting to know if there has been a recent uptake in the fine guidance provided by LCC as a result of this focus on Major Accident Hazards, and if those schools or people living next to a high pressure gas main are taking appropriate precautions?

    Indeed, has Lancashire got sufficient water to fight a gas main fire now…?

    • The USA has seen fracking failure. In most cases the effect on your water quality, environment, & people. Here in America the news commentator Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) has acess to send you videos of the scenes of fracking emergencies. Get in touch with her. At NBC news in New York City. Worth a try…

      • Sherwulfe
        Let’s see how the water issue goes.
        Shirebrook last Saturday
        Call to response time 4 minutes!
        Phew, but what is the average I guess?
        Rapid response does not make headlines.

        • Let’s look at West Lancashire; no ambulances available – two astthma emergencies….that didn’t make the news either; or 81 year old left on floor for four and half hours until ambulance shift change -nether did that……

            • They don’t, the police close the road. If they are doing their job there will be provision for blue light services to be either rerouted or prioritized; another dead herring

            • They don’t block anything , Lancs Police do that.

              Rather than facilitating a workable contra flow with the vast numbers of officers on the ground they prefer to pursue the narrative that the road is impassable as they seek to justify their operations with the public. It only works with the weak minded sheep though, you only need to watch the live feeds to see that a blue light call could easily pass if required.

              If you have even been in a city during rush hour you will see emergency vehicles pass through much worse traffic situations without all the attendant plod seen at PNR.

              But please continue to suck up and regurgitate the nonsense you are being fed Kishney

    • ‘Indeed, has Lancashire got sufficient water to fight a gas main fire now…?’ a very good point hewes, and the other blue light services? I think not, the ‘austerity’ – read theft from the taxpayer – has seen to that. If you cannot get an ambulance from a a hospital 5 mins away in 5 hours, then things are looking grim…..

      • Another reason why the Government needs £Billions in new tax revenue from U.K Shale Gas Companies.

        Not much tax from importing Norwegian, Dutch, Russian, American, Qatari Gas…

        • And yet another dead herring from the ‘jobsworth’…..£Billions from shale , ha, ha, ha; stop it, pass me the green bottle, I can’t take this anymore!

          Reduced house prices = less money for social care = cost to government/taxpayer
          Health issues highlighted from shale gas extraction worldwide = cost to NHS/government/taxpayer
          Revenue form an offshore ponzi scheme = zero
          Costs for infrastructure, new road to accommodate trucks and maintenance [future tumbleweed avenues] = cost to government/taxpayer

          There are some good OU courses, would suggest you start now, or you may end up just taking entrance money for the Blackpool Tower……

        • Yes that’s the way to go, use any revenue raised through tax’s as a sticking plaster for austerity and tax breaks for the wealthy . Just like in the 80s with money raised from North Sea exploration frittered away on services that should already be appropriately funded.

          The Norwegians use the revenue they raise for a sovereign wealth fund to reinvest and whilst not exclusively green or ethical it has divested from coal, other environmental polluters, arms companies, tobacco and companies with poor human rights records.

  4. Interesting report on BBC NW Tonight about the PNR fracking and court case. The local kennel owner who appears to be the closest business / residence to the PNR wellsite had more problems with protestors, particularly those from outside the area, than he ever had with Cuadrilla. I have not seen anything about this on DOD? I thought everyone who lived near the site was pro antis and very much against Cuadrilla?

  5. The GREAT Fracking PONZI


    The fracking of oil, in particular, rests on a financial foundation that is far less secure than most people realise.

    Because so few fracking companies actually make money, the most vital ingredient in fracking isn’t chemicals, but capital, with companies relying on Wall Street’s willingness to fund them. If it weren’t for historically low interest rates, it’s not clear there would even have been a fracking boom at all.

    FRACKING lives on the back of cheap, near zero interest rate money .

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s