Greenpeace mounts legal challenge to shale gas fracking

Greenpeace has launched a legal bid to block “reckless” plans by oil and gas developers to drill for shale gas in the UK using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The campaign group claimed developers need landowners’ permission to drill beneath property using fracking which splits rock layers horizontally.

Kate Harrison, partner at law firm Harrison Grant, said: “The common law on this is clear. If fracking companies don’t seek and receive permission for drilling under people’s homes they will be liable for trespass. Cuadrilla and other companies would do well to respect people’s rights and not push on with drilling plans where they’re not wanted.”

Greenpeace senior campaigner Anna Jones added: “To avoid being liable for trespass, drillers would need landowners’ permission. And this case is about people explicitly declaring they do not give that permission. This will make it extremely difficult for companies to move ahead with any horizontal drilling plans.”

Greenpeace said it understood that the oil and gas industry has asked the government to introduce legislation that would over-ride this law.

Industry body the UK Onshore Operators Group hit back, saying Greenpeace’s announcement was “extremely misleading”.

Its statement went on: “Operators in this country are abiding by the law which states that activities at depths of over a mile under the ground do not impact landowners, however in line with the law, operators will inform all landowners in a very clear and transparent manner.

“Underground working is hardly something that is employed by just the oil and gas industry but includes pipelines, fibre optics, geothermal energy and transport tunnelling to name but a few.”