Supreme Court ruling this week could end all new UK fossil fuel projects - Extinction Rebellion UK

Supreme Court ruling this week could end all new UK fossil fuel projects

The Supreme Court will rule this Thursday (20 June) on a case brought by climate activist Sarah Finch which, if successful, will see major restrictions placed on all new fossil fuel projects across England and Wales, including the proposed new coal mine in Cumbria and the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea.

Climate activists are planning to gather outside the Supreme Court on Thursday to hold a silent vigil in support of Finch’s case, ahead of the ruling, which is due to be handed down by the court at 9.45am on Thursday 20 June.

If the court rules in Finch’s favour planners will have to take into account the total emissions from any fossil fuels extracted, rather than merely the emissions from the extraction.

The case, brought by Extinction Rebellion climate activist Sarah Finch (pictured) on behalf of the Weald Action Group, centred around Surrey County Council’s 2019 decision to grant UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) planning permission to drill for up to 3.3 million tonnes of crude oil  for 20 years at its Horse Hill site, near Gatwick Airport.

Finch argued that under the correct interpretation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations 2017 environmental impact assessments must take into account downstream emissions caused by burning extracted oil. 

She took her fight to the Supreme Court after three appeal court judges were split over the lawfulness of the county council’s decision to grant permission for 20 years of oil drilling and production.

Finch argued the Court of Appeal was wrong to hold that it was ultimately a matter of planning judgment for the planning authority whether downstream emissions are a likely significant effect of the proposed development.

She also said it was wrong for the Court of Appeal to conclude that the reasons given by Surrey County Council in deciding that the downstream GHG emissions were not an effect of the development were lawful.

In addition Finch argued that for Surrey County Council to grant planning permission based on a complete absence of any assessment of the unavoidable indirect effects on climate of the inevitable burning of the extracted petroleum was unlawful.

Finch is being represented in court by Marc Willers KC of Garden Court Chambers, Estelle Dehon KC and Ruchi Parekh of Cornerstone Barristers, and her solicitor is Rowan Smith at Leigh Day LLP.

For further information contact:

Related topics

coal mines Extinction Rebellion fossil fuels oil Supreme Court

Sign up for news