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Campaigner loses High Court bid to halt Cuadrilla fracking

Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed Bob Dennett’s bid for an order preventing fracking at the Preston New Road site pending a legal challenge.

Campaigner Bob Dennett has failed in a High Court bid to temporarily block energy firm Cuadrilla from fracking at its site at Preston New Road, Lancashire.

At a hearing in London on Friday, Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed Mr Dennett’s application for an interim injunction preventing Cuadrilla from fracking the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well pending his proposed legal challenge.

Mr Dennett claims Lancashire County Council’s emergency response planning and procedures at the site are inadequate, but the judge ruled that there was not a “serious issue” to be tried which would justify an interim order.

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Fracking is due to start soon at the site (Danny Lawson/PA)

On Thursday, Nathalie Lieven QC, for Cuadrilla, told the judge that her client “had been intending to start fracking” on Friday, but had “put that off to Saturday” in light of the late hearing.

She added that “every day, it costs Cuadrilla £94,000 to keep all that kit and equipment on site”.

Marc Willers QC, for Mr Dennett, had argued that Lancashire County Council failed “to take account of relevant material considerations” and also took account of “irrelevant matters” in its assessment of the alleged environmental and health and safety risks.

He added that a risk assessment which “underpinned the hydraulic fracturing consent” was “fundamentally flawed”.

Dismissing Mr Dennett’s application for an interim injunction, Mr Justice Supperstone said: “I do not consider that any of the grounds of challenge raise a serious issue to be tried.”

Mr Justice Supperstone said the site’s safety had been assessed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and there was “no evidence” to support Mr Dennett’s argument that it should have been categorised as posing more than a “medium risk”.

He added: “The claimant first has to establish that there is a serious issue to be tried.

“I am satisfied that the claimant falls at the first hurdle.”

The judge also refused permission for a judicial review of Lancashire County Council’s emergency planning procedures regarding the site.

He said: “I am entirely satisfied that the claim as formulated is unarguable.”

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