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Seahorse Trust launches legal action over authorisation of drilling for oil in Poole Bay

A charity has launched a judicial review challenge over the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s decision to allow drilling for oil in Poole Bay, Dorset.

The Seahorse Trust, which is bringing the claim through its Director Neil Garrick-Maidment, said there had not been a proper environmental impact assessment of the proposal before it was authorised by the minister.

The Secretary of State “did the same again when Corallian Energy Limited applied for consent to continue drilling beyond the time allowed for in its permit”.

The trust has objected to the proposal on the grounds of the impact of the drilling on Short Snouted Seahorses and Spiny Seahorses that over winter in the area of the proposed oil platform and as such are both susceptible to disturbance.

It claimed that the Secretary of State had asked Corallian to provide further environmental information on (amongst other things) the impact of the drilling on seahorses, but failed to give notice of this further information to the public, including to the Seahorse Trust, so they were unable to comment.

“The Secretary of State took the decision to allow the drilling but failed to notify objectors that this decision had been taken (and had to be challenged within 6 weeks) other than in an obscure publication called the London Gazette,” the Seahorse Trust added.

The Seahorse Trust said it wanted “to ensure that any future drilling in UK waters will be subject to proper consultation and scrutiny so that sensitive species such as seahorses are properly protected”.

It is therefore seeking a declaration from the Court that The Offshore Petroleum Production and Pipe-lines (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1999 are not fit for purpose and need to be amended.

The charity, which has raised more than £12,000 towards the challenge via Crowd Justice, is being advised by Susan Ring of Harrison Grant.

The law firm tweeted that it would be challenging the lawfulness of the UK’s transposition of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive to oil & gas exploration/extraction and decisions of the Secretary of State for BEIS and the Oil and Gas Authority regarding drilling in Poole Bay.

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