The petrochemicals giant and Reach Coal Seam Gas took ministers to court over their moratorium for fracking as they claimed it was “unlawfully imposed”.
The Scottish Government argued there is no ban in place but its “preferred position” is not to support unconventional oil and gas extraction – which includes fracking and coalbed methane extraction – and that the policymaking process is still ongoing.
The Court of Session agreed the government did not impose any such ban and the petition for judicial review “is based on a series of fundamental misunderstandings of the Scottish Government’s position”.
Lord Pentland said: “Whilst acknowledging that there have been a number of ministerial statements to the effect that there is an effective ban, the Lord Advocate, on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, made it clear to the court that such statements were mistaken and did not accurately reflect the legal position.
“The stance of the Scottish Government before the court is that there is no legally enforceable prohibition.”
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Business, Energy and Innovation Minister welcomed the ruling, stating: “I have repeatedly set out to parliament that we would undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) ahead of finalising that position and that approach has been endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament.
“In the meantime, a moratorium is in place which means no local authority can grant planning permission and ministers would defer any decision on any planning application that did come forward until the policymaking process is completed. The practical effect of the current moratorium and the policymaking process which is underway to finalise our position is that no fracking can take place in Scotland at this time.”
ELN has contacted INEOS for a statement.