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Fracking to start in Lancashire after council wins High Court legal challenge

Fracking will restart in the UK for the first time in seven years on Saturday after campaigners lost a late legal challenge against Lancashire County Council (LCC).

Cuadrilla said it was delighted to be given the go-ahead in High Court today to begin shale gas exploration at its Preston New Road in Lancashire, after Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed the last-minute request for an interim injunction.

Campaigner and local resident Robert Dennett tried to prevent the work starting through an interim injunction, arguing that Lancashire CC’s emergency planning was inadequate and that it had failed to fully access the safely access risks.

But the High Court judge said there was “no evidence” to support the claim and rejected it on the grounds that the council had not failed in its duties regarding civil contingency planning.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “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.

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

Fracking was halted in 2011 after it was linked to earthquakes, but drilling is now due to restart this Saturday.

Dennett will reportedly try to appeal the decision, and an additional legal challenge by Friends of the Earth regarding regulation at the site is still being considered by the High Court.

Jamie Peters, Friends of the Earth fracking campaigner, who was at the court, said: “Today’s court ruling is sad news for local residents who’ve long fought against this dirty industry and the risks it poses to their environment and the climate.

“In a week in which the scale of action needed to stop climate chaos has dominated the headlines, it is simply wrong to be heralding the start of a new fossil-fuel industry.

“You can have fracking or you can deal with climate change – you can’t do both.”

Former communities secretary Sajid Javid announced in October 2016 that he was upholding an appeal by Cuadrilla to allow its application to drill for gas in the north west.

The fracking process will take around three months to complete work on two horizontal exploration wells. Cuadrilla will then test the flow of natural gas from these two wells, with initial results expected in the New Year.

Last month it was reported that local government pension funds were investing over £9bn in fracking companies.

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Image credit -  Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images


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