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Campaigner loses legal bid to prevent Lancashire fracking

Words: Laura Edgar
Exploratory drilling / iStock

Campaigner Bob Dennett has lost his last-minute legal challenge to stop Cuadrilla fracking at its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site in Lancashire.

Dennett won an interim injunction last Friday (6 October) against Lancashire County Council.

He said that there wasn’t a “clear and robust plan” in place to evacuate residents in the event of an earthquake resulting from fracking.

Cuadrilla has two wells at the site and planned to start fracking this week.

Today (12 October), though, High Court judge Mr Justice Supperstone rejected the request for an injunction, stating that the council had not failed in its duties regarding civil contingency planning.

Representing Dennett, Marc Willers QC asked for a two-week interim injunction while the court considered the matter, saying it was a “small price to pay for the safety of local residents”.

Cuadrilla’s lawyers argued that there was no serious case to be tried because the ultimate authority for whether the company could frack was not the local authority but energy secretary Greg Clark, who issued a fracking consent this summer.

The Guardian reports Dennet as being disappointed. “We will continue to be defiant and fight this. We will never give up. We’ve put too much effort in to throw the towel in.”

The judge also refused permission for a judicial review of the council’s emergency planning procedures for Preston New Road, which was sought by Friends of the Earth.

Following the decision, Cuadrilla issued a statement confirming that it plans to start hydraulic fracturing operations at Preston New Road tomorrow (13 October).

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire. If commercially recoverable this 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.

The firm said initial results are expected in the New Year.

Image credit | iStock