Disappointment as High Court does not uphold fracking challenge
Friends of the Earth had challenged a permit variation granted by the Environment Agency in 2017. The Environment Agency (EA) has a duty to ensure the best available techniques (BAT) are used by the fracking industry. Friends of the Earth argued that Cuadrilla’s permit variation granted in 2017 was a substantial change to operations at the site which merited a full BAT assessment of the way that Cuadrilla was proposing to deal with flowback fluid.
However, the judge did not uphold the challenge and, in effect, said that it should have been brought back in 2015 when the original permit was granted.
Friends of the Earth argued that the EA should have required Cuadrilla to use a better technique for dealing with waste fluids - known as flowback – that fracking generates. The more ‘flowback fluid’ Cuadrilla can reuse, the less waste will need to be trucked offsite, and the less fresh water will need to be used for fracking. Failure of the EA to make sure that the best available techniques are used could mean more fresh water is used and more waste and more trucks end up on Lancashire’s roads.
Friends of the Earth will continue to scrutinise whether the EA is complying with its duty to ensure that fracking operators use the best available techniques.
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:
“We’re obviously disappointed that the judge has not upheld our challenge. However we will continue to scrutinise the fracking industry closely. The government claims that fracking has gold standard regulation but there are many examples of shortcomings in the actual regulations and problems in their implementation.
“With scientists warning that there is little time left to get on top of climate change, the government is backing the wrong horse in supporting fracking. The future lies in clean, renewable energy”
Cuadrilla has moved a lot of equipment off the Preston New Road site but has said it anticipates continuing its operations this year.