Greenpeace has today been given the green light to challenge BP’s North Sea drilling permit, one day before BP’s new boss Bernard Looney takes over.
Looney faces a legal headache on his first day in the job tomorrow, as Greenpeace argues that the government was wrong to award BP a permit to drill in the Vorlich oil fields, north of Inverness, because it failed to properly consult the public on its decision. Greenpeace activists staged a protest there last June in an attempt to block BP from accessing the 30 million barrels of oil in the Vorlich field .
At a hearing in the High Court, Mrs Justice Lang granted Greenpeace permission to proceed with a judicial review case against the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. BP is named as an interested party in the case.
John Sauven, executive director for Greenpeace UK, said:
“BP has been given free rein by the government to drill for more oil and gas in the North Sea, without proper public consultation and without any consideration of the devastating impact that the use of this oil will have on our climate.
“We took action last year and boarded BP’s rig to stop this from happening. Now we will fight to prove that BP should never have been there in the first place.”
In June last year, Greenpeace activists boarded BP’s oil rig, Paul B Loyd Jnr, as it was being towed out to sea in the Cromarty Firth. BP and its rig operator Transocean sought court interdicts in a bid to stop the action, but Greenpeace activists continued their peaceful protest for 12 days. In a separate legal case, BP’s rig operator Transocean is seeking hefty fines and jail sentences against Greenpeace and its executive director John Sauven as punishment for breaching the interdict.
Greenpeace’s judicial review hearing today follows a successful case brought by Neil Garrick-Maidment of the Seahorse Trust last year, which challenged the legality of permit granted to energy firm Carillion, on the grounds that there had not been a proper public consultation.
After the Seahorse case, business secretary Andrea Leadsom agreed to carry out a detailed review of the Offshore Petroleum Production and Pipe-lines (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1999 and amend them following public consultation. As yet there has been no public announcement on the progress of that consultation.
The case will continue later this year, with the next hearing expected between late April and mid-June.
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