Ineos legal challenge to fracking ban begins

Written by Tom Freeman on 8 May 2018 in News

Scottish Government lawyer argues fracking decision is not a ban at Court of Session

Grangemouth, Ineos - PA

The legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s effective ban on hydraulic fracturing for shale gas has begun at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Petrochemical company Ineos demanded a judicial review after Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announced the Scottish Government’s moratorium on fracking would be continued indefinitely in October.

It was described at the time as an “effective ban”, which Ineos, alongside another firm Reach, argues is unlawful.

Acting for the Scottish Government, James Mure QC told the judge the decision still amounted to a moratorium and therefore was legal.

“The concept of an effective ban is a gloss. It is the language of a press statement. What they have done is to announce a preferred position on the issue," he said.

“They have not yet adopted a position. Any position which the government will take has to undergo an environmental and strategic assessment.

“The court should therefore allow the policy-making process to go to finalisation which is expected in October this year.”

Ineos owns the Grangemouth oil and gas refinery and holds two licenses to frack in Scotland granted by the UK Government.

Local authorities have been instructed not to grant planning permission at the sites by the Scottish Government, but this has not been put in legislation.

Scottish Labour's environment and climate change spokesperson Claudia Beamish said: “This action is a classic case of a big business ignoring the wishes of communities in favour of its own profit margins. 

“Ineos is out of step with the public and the Scottish Parliament when it comes to fracking. The people of Scotland don’t want it to happen and the Scottish Parliament has said that it is not the right option for Scotland – not right for our communities, our water, our air and the future of our planet.”

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