The first fracking in Britain will start on Saturday for seven years, shale gas company Cuadrilla has confirmed after activists have lost a last-minute legal challenge to block the operations.
Lancashire resident Robert Dennett won a restraining order against Lancashire County Council last Friday, temporarily suspending fracking in a building outside Blackpool.
His lawyers argued on Thursday that the Council's contingency planning had been inadequate in the event of an incident at the Cuadrilla construction site in Preston New Road.
But on Friday, a Supreme Court judge dismissed the injunction on the grounds that the Council had not failed in its Civil Emergency Planning duties.
The court's decision removes the last obstacle to fracking, which resurfaces after a seven-year break in the UK.
Cuadrilla said it was pleased that it could start operating as planned. "We are now beginning the final phase of operations to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of natural gas in Lancashire," said Francis Egan, Chief Executive Officer.
Company lawyers had said that it would cost £ 94,000 every day to be judicially ordered and fracked.
The oil services company Schlumberger was commissioned to do the fracking, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into the ground to break up shale 2 km below the surface. The operation is expected to take up to three months.
Dennett said, "[I’m] obviously disappointed. We will continue to be defiant and fight this. We will never give up. We invested too much effort to throw in the towel. "
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said the court verdict was a "real blow". Just a few days after a UN climate report, it was said that fossil fuel consumption needed to be drastically reduced to avoid dangerous global warming.
He vowed to continue his opposition to fracking and said that public attitudes towards industry are increasing.
"We'll keep fighting, it's direct action, we'll fight the fracking companies," Bartley told the Guardian in court.
Marc Willers QC, representing Dennett, had asked for a two-week injunction while the court was considering the matter. "It's a small price for the safety of local residents," he said in a packed courtroom.
But lawyers for Cuadrilla had argued that there was no serious case to be tried, because the ultimate authority on whether the company could frack was not local authority, but the secretary of business Greg Clark, who issued a fracking approval this summer Has.
The campaign group Frack Free Lancashire said it was disappointed with the court's decision.
"Cuadrilla can now continue independently and ignores the IPCC's urgent warning to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, but all fracking companies need to know that fracking will never take hold in Britain will encounter resistance at every stage of their projects," said a speaker.
Fracking opponents have pledged to hold a national climate change rally on a farm near Cuadrilla's site later this month. In addition to fracking Preston New Road, the event will demand the release of three fracking activists recently arrested for their protests on the ground last year.