A corporate giant is taking Nicola Sturgeon’s government to court over ‘human rights violations’

INEOS logo and Nicola Sturgeon
Support us and go ad-free

On Tuesday 8 May, a legal challenge against Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish government began. A corporate giant is claiming the Holyrood government breached its human rights. And the case centres on a highly controversial topic: fracking.

A controversial company

INEOS is a multinational fossil fuels company that’s involved in shale gas extraction, or ‘fracking’. It’s already controversial, as farmers and landowners are up in arms about the way INEOS deals with them. The company has also fallen out with the National Trust, which it’s taking to court after the organisation refused to allow it to frack on Trust land.

In perhaps its most audacious move yet, INEOS is taking the Scottish government to court over what it says is an “unlawful” ban on fracking.

Sturgeon’s government in court

As The Canary‘s Andrea Needham previously reported, Sturgeon’s government effectively banned fracking in October 2017. After a pause on fracking in 2015, the Scottish government ran a consultation on it. Around 99% of more than 60,000 responses opposed fracking. The Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said the ban came after the government had:

taken account of the interests of the environment, our economy, public health and the overwhelming majority of public opinion…

INEOS was not happy, and it launched a legal challenge against the decision. It centred on the Westminster government having granted it permission to frack across roughly 700 sq miles of land in Scotland.

Now, with the Scottish government’s ban, INEOS claims it’s lost money, as well as having its human rights breached [pdf, p10]. It says that Sturgeon’s government made:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

very serious errors within the decision-making process, including a failure to adhere to proper statutory process and a misuse of ministerial power.

Tom Pickering, operations director at INEOS Shale, said:

The decision in October was a major blow to Scottish science and its engineering industry, as well as being financially costly to INEOS… It also removed… the potential for the country in these uncertain times to secure its own indigenous energy supply. We have serious concerns about the legitimacy of the ban and have therefore applied to the court to ask that it review the competency of the decision to introduce it.

But the Scottish government disagrees. According to BBC News, it took a “careful and considered approach” when deciding to ban fracking, with a “detailed assessment of evidence”.

Democracy?

The case will be heard at Scotland’s supreme civil court, the Court of Session. It will be controversial due to the opposition to fracking. Aside from the obvious air pollution generated from burning fossil fuels, fracking has been linked to polluted drinking water and earthquakes. Studies have also shown links to low birth weights, premature births, and a possible increased risk of breast cancer.

In a move indicative of the highly-charged arguments surrounding fracking, a judge has given Friends of the Earth permission to intervene in the case. It has submitted evidence about the environmental impact of the industry. But the case is not only about the environment and health impacts of fracking. It’s also about the very nature of our democracy.

When multinational companies can take elected governments to court over financial losses, it’s worrying. When it involves government decisions the public overwhelmingly support, it’s a sad day for democracy.

Get Involved!

– Stay up to date with fracking news from DrillOrDrop.

– Read more about fracking from The Canary.

Featured image via INEOS – YouTube and BBC News – YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed