Ineos, owned by billionaire Jim Radcliff, resident in the clean environment of Switzerland, has commenced proceedings via the Scottish Courts to sue the Scottish Government over its ban on Fracking.
To be precise, two of his companies, Ineos Upstream and Reach Coal Seam Gas, went to court and “won”, firstly, the right to a judicial review and secondly, a case to potentially sue the Scottish Government for a claim to damages under “Human Rights” laws.
We should all be very worried!
It is a remarkable situation that Scotland, in union within the UK, has vast oil and gas reserves which, almost in its entirety, is exported for processing into finished product elsewhere.
The last thing we need in the Scottish economy is an industry which, at a minimum, is highly questionable on environmental grounds and which is based on the relative absence of a benefit from “down stream” processing from our existing oil and gas wealth. Why would anyone believe that by permitting fracking across the former Scottish coal fields (closed and abandoned in the 1980s despite there being 800+ years of known reserves) that it will be of any benefit whatsoever to Scotland or her people?
We know from our recent history that when oil and gas were first discovered in the North Sea, Bernard Ingam, Personal Secretary to Margaret Thatcher, successfully drew up a plan to re-position the trajectory of the Scottish Border into the North Sea. This was directed much further north by north east and by doing so saw a significant area of sea bed re-allocated to England. At the same time he is also thought to have persuaded her, she who was Prime Minister at the time, to agree to the Shetland Island Council retaining 1p per barrel of oil landed at their storage facilities on the islands – a right which still exists to this day and one that, despite it sounding a small sum, over 40 years has vastly improved the facilities enjoyed there by the Islanders – good luck to them for it.
However his motivation and that of Mrs Thatcher was not driven by “altruism” to the Shetlanders.
This was “positioning”. The SNP were on the ascendancy and the ploy, and it was implemented in subsequent elections, was divisive. The proposition being that if Scotland ever voted for independence the UK government would encourage Shetlanders to stay within the Union thus robbing the Scottish Exchequer of the now vast oil revenue potential of the fields west of the Islands.
In effect this was and is another form of partition so liked by the British Empire, of which we now remain almost “last man standing”!
I am no lawyer, so I do not pretend to know what is the objective of the Judicial Review. It surely is within the rights of a democratically elected Government of Scotland to decide to ban a process which is potentially damaging to our natural environment.
Hopefully our Scottish Courts will uphold that right.
To also threaten to sue using Human Rights legislation is equally baffling!
Since when did a corporation acquire “human” rights?.
Surely these are rights available only to living and breathing homo sapiens?
That aside, the human rights we should be concerned about and, hopefully, our Scottish Courts will support us in, is the right to live in a clean environment. As I understand it , currently, the shale oil gas being imported to Grangemouth comes from relatively sparsely populated areas of North America. If Ineos wins a case to frack here in Scotland then that is a very different proposition.
The reserves here are in our most densely populated areas running right through the now abandoned coal seems across the entire Central Belt from Cockenzie to Lanarkshire.
One can only speculate about the damage that such irresponsible commercial activities could have on our country and the local population.
These are the real Human Rights being put at risk by this Court action.
A legal process has, however, commenced. Lord Pentland has issued his judgement.
This process could, depending on the initial findings, be protracted over several years, indeed I suspect that the “commercial strategy” is to see them go beyond Brexit in the certain knowledge that if the Scottish Courts finds against Ineos on either or both actions then an appeal will then be made to the Supreme Court which will in that timescale no longer be in Europe but in London.
Despite the much vaunted “independence” of the London Judiciary I think I could put money on them repealing the democratically elected Scottish Government’s ban on Fracking, by overturning any decision made by the Scottish Judiciary.
I hope I am wrong but I sense that “the unseen hand” is in all of this.
There is only one sure way out of this “mess in the making”- it is Scottish Independence.
Please, for ourselves and our children yet unborn, vote Yes next time.
Ian Stewart, Isle of Skye