Court rules that campaigners can challenge new oil and gas licences

Campaigners have been granted permission to challenge last year’s decision by the government to issue new oil and gas licences.

Royal Courts of Justice, London. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The High Court ruled today that Uplift and Greenpeace can proceed with claims for judicial review of the government’s decision to endorse new North Sea oil and gas licensing.

Uplift was granted permission to proceed with four separate grounds.

In a separate but related legal challenge heard by the same court, Greenpeace was also granted permission to proceed with two of its grounds of challenge.

Uplift, which campaigns for a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels in the UK, argues that the government made multiple legal errors. It said the government failed to:

  • assess the greenhouse gas emissions from burning any oil and gas extracted under new licences
  • properly consider whether no new licences should be granted
  • be transparent about how it came to its decision that a new licensing round passed the climate compatibility checkpoint.

Greenpeace said:

“We believe that the government has unlawfully approved a new oil and gas licensing round because they failed to properly check how damaging it will be to the climate.”

After today’s decision, Tessa Khan, executive director of Uplift and a climate lawyer, said:

“Giving the go-ahead for a new licensing round was just one of many deeply flawed decisions made by Liz Truss’s government, which fortunately we can now seek to reverse. This ruling is the first step to halting that decision.

“We are arguing that the government’s process for appraising new fields, the Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment, unlawfully failed to take into account the burning of these UK-produced fossil fuels. Moreover, we argue that the government’s ill-named ‘climate compatibility’ test for new licences is clearly meaningless. It won’t stop a single new licence, yet we know there can’t be any new oil and gas developments if we’re to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

“There is no rational justification for this licensing round. New oil and gas fields will do absolutely nothing for consumers struggling with unaffordable energy bills: it will take years to produce, will be sold back to us at global prices and, anyway, most of what’s left is oil for export. Unlike renewable energy, it won’t lower bills.

“The government needs to stop dancing to the oil and gas industry’s tune and tell these companies that the time to shift to cheaper, cleaner renewables is now. An end to new licensing is the signal they need.”

2 replies »

  1. I am sure this will not trouble ARAMCO or any other of the major producers of oil, gas and coal globally. How they are planning to transition away from oil, gas and coal as an energy source will also not be troubled by this ruling But I am sure the lawyers are pleased. Trebles all round.

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