Judge Dismisses Shale Case Against Ineos
A judge in Leeds, England, has dismissed a shale-gas related case involving Ineos, brought by a community anti-fracking group Harthill Against Fracking seeking to overturn a UK national planning inspector's decision to approve test drilling in Rotherham, Yorkshire.
Harthill Against Fracking (HAF) brought the statutory challenge against the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government over a 2018 decision of the planning inspectorate last year, charging that the permit was issued too hastily.
The Rotherham Council had initially decided to reject the chemical producer’s application on transport and ecology grounds, but was overruled by the national authority.
As granted, the application provides temporary permission for a maximum of five years; the operation will involve various site investigation surveys and site preparation before a period of drilling, coring and testing.
Both HAF and Rotherham complained that the time allowed for the council and fracking opponents to review an updated traffic plan prepared for Ineos by consultants AECOM was insufficient to obtain alternative guidance. Therefore, they said, the planning inspector acted in breach of the rules of natural justice.
Ineos argued that, although the AECOM report was 140 pages long, there were only nine pages of operative text describing the changes in the enhanced traffic management plan. In dismissing the case, the judge said the shale opponents had not been deprived of a reasonable opportunity to challenge Ineos, as there was no procedural unfairness and no material prejudice.