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Monday, July 15, 2024
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HomeClimate WatchUtterly undemocratic – Supreme Court blocks oil site

Utterly undemocratic – Supreme Court blocks oil site

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IN PROBABLY the most glaring example yet of judicial overreach, the Supreme Court has ruled that emissions from burning fossil fuels must be considered when approving new drilling sites.

In doing so, it overturned the decision to grant planning permission for the Horse Hill oil drilling site in Surrey. Previously only the emissions involved in the drilling itself had to be considered.

The decision has massive implications for oil and gas development in the North Sea, but arguably it could have a much wider impact. The proposed Whitehaven coal mine is certainly one project that will be in the sights of eco-campaigners. But what about new factories, airport expansion, new roads and even housebuilding? All of these will generate emissions beyond those involved in construction.

The decision will not necessarily kill the Horse Hill project, or others, but it certainly will discourage them. Businesses don’t have bottomless pockets, and will think twice about developing new oil fields if they think they are going to be tied up in court for years.

The Supreme Court judgment is utterly undemocratic. It is the job of a court not to make public policy, but simply to apply the law. And the law does not demand that downstream emissions be taken into account. The judgment is therefore no more than the personal opinion of the Justices. Given the gleeful reaction from Extinction Rebellion, it is reasonable to suspect that the three out of the five judges who voted for this did so for political reasons.

Not only has the ruling no foundation in law, it is simply illogical. The Net Zero Act sets targets for decarbonisation, but it is purely within the government’s remit to decide how to achieve that, overseen of course by Parliament. As there will still be demand for oil and gas for many years, the loss of output from UK fields will mean we have to import it instead. The carbon dioxide emitted will be the same either way – indeed, shipping it from abroad will result in more emissions still.

It is just another example of how political power is draining away from elected politicians, something that is likely to get much worse under Starmer.

You can read a further examination of this landmark ruling with links to the decision documents by Dr John Constable on Netzero Watch. He writes ‘With this decision the UK fossil fuel industry has been pushed closer to the edge of extinction. We are therefore one step closer to our ultimate destination, namely a distressed and very painful policy correction and retreat from Net Zero. Keir Starmer should be terrified at the prospect’ and that it is ‘yet another argument for the dissolution of the Supreme Court’.

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Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood
Paul Homewood is a former accountant who blogs about climate change at Not a Lot of People Know That

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