After the British government attempted to make it easier to kickstart new fracking projects with reinvented guidelines, campaigning group Talk Fracking challenged them in court — and on Wednesday, the group won.
It's a big win for activists, and will make it easier for anti-fracking campaigners to frustrate efforts to expand the drilling process in England.
The BBC reports that UK ministers had been telling local councils that fracking could help fight climate change — but Talk Fracking, represented by law firm Leigh Day, argued that such advice willfully ignored scientific evidence that fracking makes global warming worse.
The judgement ruled that the scientific evidence was “never in fact considered relevant or taken into account” by the government. It essentially means that campaigners can now use climate change as a reason to object to planning permission for new fracking sites in England, according to the Guardian.
ICYMI, fracking is the process that breaks into the earth with high pressure water and chemicals to extract oil and gas. The natural gas released includes methane, a greenhouse gas which when leaked into the atmosphere can increase global temperatures. If you’ve been watching the news over the last decade, you know what happens next.
But back to the case. In addition to pointing to overlooked evidence, Talk Fracking argued that a public consultation carried out by the government failed to live up to legal standards. The judgement agreed that the consultation was “unlawful” and “flawed in its design and processes.”
“It’s fantastic news to be victorious this morning,” said Joe Corré from Talk Fracking, on Wednesday. “I’m very pleased that the court has confirmed that the government has behaved irresponsibly and recklessly with our democratic rulebook."
“Their consultation was a farce,” Corré continued. “Their written ministerial statement claim that fracking is a bridge to low carbon economy is not based on scientific evidence. This has been exposed by us taking them to court.”
"We note the judgment in the case brought by Talk Fracking, and will now consider our next steps,” said a spokesperson from the Department of Housing, Communities, and Local Government in response to the ruling. "Environmental protections are at the heart of our new planning rulebook, setting clear expectations for future development."
If we win at the Court of Appeal, it will be another major blow to the #fracking industry. @INEOS’s wide-ranging injunction has curbed people’s #RightToProtest & has also been adopted by other fracking companies, who are intent on shutting down peaceful protest #INEOSvTHEPEOPLEpic.twitter.com/RZx9mIodWf— Joe Corré (@realjoecorre) March 5, 2019
It’s not the first time the government has been accused of overlooking the science on fracking. Global Citizen reported in October 2018 that James Hansen, known as the “father of climate science,” wrote to Conservative MP and energy minister Claire Perry to warn her that fracking will contribute to “climate breakdown.”
“The science is crystal clear, we need to phase out fossil fuels starting with the most damaging, the unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands and fracking,” Hansen told the Observer.