High Court green-lights legal challenge to coalition oil drilling plan

A High Court Judge yesterday green-lighted a far-reaching legal challenge that will have significant implications for ministers’ plans for new deep sea oil drilling off Scotland’s coast.

A High Court Judge yesterday green-lighted a far-reaching legal challenge that will have significant implications for ministers’ plans for new deep sea oil drilling off Scotland’s coast.

The Guardian recently reported that Chevron’s own modelling showed an oil spill off Shetland could reach the coastline of Greenland and Norway, while The Times reported (£) that, according to an American oil company seeking to drill one of Britain’s deepest wells, a spill could:

“…last for more than ten weeks and involve almost as much oil as was lost from the BP Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico last year.”

The newspaper reported that the company called Hess has admitted that attempts to contain the slick “are unlikely to be effective” because of the heavy seas and high winds common in the area.

Honourable Mr Justice Ouseley said that the High Court would now review the energy secretary Chris Huhne’s decision to grant oil licenses in these deep UK waters following a challenge from Greenpeace. The government will now need to defend in court its decision to waive through new licenses for deep sea oil drilling to the West of Shetland.

If the High Court upholds Greenpeace’s legal challenge, the government would be unable to grant licences for deep sea drilling without completing a thorough environmental assessment of the impact of deep water drilling on specially protected areas.

If the environmental assessment were to reveal risks to protected areas and species then the Ministers would not be able to issue licences in the normal way. Equally, if the Court upholds the challenge, some oil drilling licenses that have already been granted could be quashed.

Earlier this year a cross-party group of MPs warned that taxpayers could end up footing the bill from a major spill in UK waters and said they had “serious doubts” about whether oil companies’ spill response plans would be effective given the harsh conditions off Scotland’s coast.

The Financial Times has also reported how the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently warned that there has been a sharp increase in the number of UK oil leaks, saying they regarded them as:

“…potential precursors to a major incident.”

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said:

“The government is ignoring the lessons from the deep water horizon blow out in the Gulf of Mexico. The BP spill was a game-changer, highlighting the very real risks of dangerous deep sea drilling for both important wildlife and the economy.

“Rather than approving ever riskier oil drilling projects Chris Huhne should be developing a comprehensive plan to end the UK’s dependence on oil.”

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7 Responses to “High Court green-lights legal challenge to coalition oil drilling plan”

  1. Joss Garman

    RT @leftfootfwd: High Court green-lights legal challenge to coalition oil drilling plan: http://bit.ly/gEeJ7y reports @JossGarman

  2. Ayesha

    "High Court green-lights legal challenge to coalition oil drilling plan" and related posts http://ow.ly/1buXAp

  3. Anon E Mouse

    A Guardian report – Oh it must be true then…

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  5. Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse the Guardian is more credible than the Mail…

  6. Daniel Pitt

    High Court grants legal challenge to coalition oil-drilling plans http://bit.ly/gEeJ7y #ConDemNation

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – Leaving aside Gordon Browns personal links with his favourite newspaper – the Daily Mail – it still massively outsells the Guardian.

    My problem with the Guardian is not just the fact it is so unpopular or so obviously biased in it’s reporting or even the fact it constantly makes it’s stories up..no.

    My problem with the Guardian is their rank hypocrisy and the massive Tax Avoidance scam they have done on the British people.

    Personally Mr.Sensible I have no time for institutions that don’t pay their legal dues – like the Guardian and considering you and I have been conversing on this blog since it started I really am surprised you seem happy to support them despite this.

    The Daily Mail pays the taxes that it owes. The Guardian deliberately runs a Tax Avoidance scheme whilst criticising others for the same actions albeit to a lesser extent. The Guardian pays less taxes than the bankers…

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