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Judge Allows First UK Fracking in 7 Years to Proceed

A worker at the New Preston Road fracking site in Northwest England, where fracking is likely to start Saturday. Danny Lawson / PA Images via Getty Images

An anti-fracking campaigner has lost a last-ditch legal effort to stop the first fracking in the UK in seven years, The Guardian reported Friday.

Lancashire resident Robert Dennett had won a temporary injunction last week to stop shale natural gas company Cuadrilla from fracking in a well near Blackpool in northwest England. At a hearing Thursday, his lawyers argued that Lancashire County Council had not adequately planned for an emergency at the site on Preston New Road. But on Friday, a high court judge ruled that the council's planning was adequate and that fracking could go ahead.


The decision comes the same week as a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that says we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

"Cuadrilla can now carry on regardless, ignoring the urgent warning issued this week by the IPCC about the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but all of the fracking companies need to know that fracking will never get a foothold in the UK because they will meet resistance at every stage of their projects," a spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire told The Guardian.

The Guardian said the ruling meant that Cuadrilla could begin fracking within hours, but Cuadrilla lawyer Nathalie Lieven told the judge at Thursday's hearing that the timing of the hearing meant they were planning to begin Saturday instead, BBC News reported.

"[E]very day, it costs Cuadrilla £94,000 to keep all that kit and equipment on site," she told the judge.

Fracking was set to restart after the conservative UK government approved two new wells in July and September. It had been halted at the Blackpool site in 2011 because of earthquakes, but the government has issued more stringent regulations and wants to try again, citing a need for energy independence.

Opponents, meanwhile, pledged to continue fighting.

"[I'm] obviously disappointed," Dennett told The Guardian after Friday's ruling. "We will continue to be defiant and fight this. We will never give up. We've put too much effort in to throw the towel in."

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley called the verdict a "real blow" in the wake of the IPCC report and pledged direct action against fracking companies.

A climate change protest is planned at a farm near the Cuadrilla site later in the month. The protest will also call for the release of four anti-fracking activists who were jailed last month for an action blocking trucks from entering the Cuadrilla site, making them the first environmental protestors to be jailed in the UK in 86 years.

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