Greenpeace granted hearing to challenge Government on Atlantic oil exploration

A High Court judge has granted Greenpeace a full High Court hearing to review future oil licensing on the basis of the UK Government's failure to protect marine wildlife from the impacts of oil exploration on the Atlantic Frontier.

Greenpeace accuses the UK Government of failing to implement the European Habitats Directive in the Atlantic Frontier. The Judge stated that Greenpeace’s case raises substantive issues that need to be addressed in court. The UK Government has until mid-June to respond to the evidence.

Greenpeace argues that future oil licensing is illegal until the Government protects the whales, dolphins and other wildlife of the Atlantic Frontier under the Directive. The Atlantic Frontier to the North West of Britain is a vital habitat for many species of large whale, such as the blue and fin whale, which Greenpeace argues are likely to be harmed by further oil industry activity.

Peter Melchett, Executive Director of Greenpeace UK said: “The Government is meant to act as custodian of our natural resources but instead they give their industry mates carte blanche to destroy Britain’s greatest wilderness.

“We intend to expose the contradiction at the heart of Government policy. Their environmental policy says we should cut down the use of fossil fuels to protect the climate and wildlife, while their energy policy tells the fossil fuel industry to go and dig as much oil as they can regardless of the consequences,” he said.

News of this judicial review will cause concern in the oil industry over the future of oil licensing. “The outcome of this case will have a bearing on every decision the Department of Trade and Industry makes regarding oil licensing on the Atlantic Frontier. This should cool John Battle’s ardour for licensing on the Atlantic Frontier,” said Melchett.

The hearing is likely to be either at the end of July or in September and is expected to last around five days.

The main environmental NGOs in the UK support Greenpeace’s case. These include The World Wide Fund for Nature, Friends of the Earth Scotland and International, The Wildlife Trusts, The Environmental Investigation Association, Friends of Cardigan Bay.

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