Search for:
kralbetz.com1xbit güncelTipobet365Anadolu Casino GirişMariobet GirişSupertotobet mobil girişBetistbahis.comSahabetTarafbetMatadorbethack forumBetturkeyXumabet GirişrestbetbetpasGonebetBetticketTrendbetistanbulbahisbetixirtwinplaymegaparifixbetzbahisalobetaspercasino1winorisbetbetkom
Cows or solar? The lucrative future for farmland | Climate News

Solar farms in the UK only account for 0.1% of land – that’s less than that of golf courses. But, as the government aims to meet its clean energy targets, more agricultural land is being lost to solar panels.

On this episode of ClimateCast, Tom Heap visits farmer Andrew Dakin, whose family have farmed the same land for 94 years, but now, his landlord is selling up to make room for a solar farm.

Tom speaks to Andrew about how not just his job but his livelihood is at risk – and Georgia, who grew up nearby and has launched a community campaign to help save the farm.

Plus, Chris Hewitt – Solar Energy UK’s chief executive – explains how solar farms are a necessary part of the energy transition and how agriculture will be at risk of climate change without urgent action, including more solar energy.

Click to subscribe to ClimateCast with Tom Heap wherever you get your podcasts

Producers: Emma Rae Woodhouse and Gemma Watson

Assistant Producer: Iona Brunker

Editor: Paul Stanworth

‘Campaigns of misinformation’ around heat pumps says energy minister amid record number of installations | Climate News

The energy minister, Lord Callanan, has accused “vested interests” of “funding campaigns of misinformation” about heat pumps.

“I’m not going to mention names but people have a vested interest in maintaining our current supplies of gas boilers and the like”, he told The Climate Show with Tom Heap.

Heat pumps – which run on electricity and don’t emit planet-warming carbon dioxide – are likely to be the technology of choice for most homes in Britain as we move towards net zero. But they don’t always get the best press.

The government already provides a grant of up to £7,500 for households making the switch, but the upfront cost can still exceed that of a new gas boiler if other adjustments to the home are required.

We visited a home in Woking, Surrey where the gas boiler was being removed and a heat pump installed.

Tom Heap - Heat Pump
Image:
A heat pump being installed

Tom Heap - Heat Pump

After the government grant, the cost of the pump, water tank, new radiators and extra insulation still came to £6,500 – a cost that’s out of reach for many.

Mike Foster is from the Energy and Utilities Alliance – a trade body which represents gas and boiler companies and lobbies on their behalf. He says the higher upfront cost is a huge barrier.

“If we alienate the consumer on the journey to net zero, my fear and the fear of people in organisations like mine is that we’ll fail to get to net zero, and that will be the biggest crime.”

He rejected accusations that the industry has been spreading misinformation.

“Far from it. Our members make heat pumps. They make boilers. They make parts for heat networks, heat interface units. So we are technology agnostic, but we want to do what is right for the consumer,” Mr Foster said.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Will heat pumps work in Britain?

But the government says that the cost of swapping gas for a heat pump is already coming down – and that some installations are already cheaper than a boiler replacement.

“Fairly soon, as prices come down, the installation routine becomes more efficient, the prices will be very low,” Lord Callanan said.

The UK had a record year for heat pump installations last year, with 35,000 put into our homes. But that’s still a fraction of the 600,000 a year the government is targeting by 2028.

Much of the bad press around heat pumps focuses on claims that they don’t work well with much of Britain’s housing stock and some consumers are angry about being pushed to ditch gas.

Tom Heap - Heat Pump
Image:
Lord Callanan says ‘people have a vested interest’ to retain gas boilers over heat pumps

How we heat our homes has never been so controversial, so on the Climate Show this week, we went out to meet installers, customers, industry insiders, gas backers and even government ministers to separate fact from fiction and shed some light about heat pumps.

They don’t work well with old, often poorly insulated houses

Any energy system will be warmer or cheaper to run or keep if you don’t let the heat leak out – that is true for gas, oil, wood or a heat pump.

Because heat pumps work best delivering warmth at a lower level for longer periods, they might struggle to make a really badly insulated home really cosy.

Read more from Sky News:
Carbon offsetting sounds attractive – but it’s an expensive prospect

Climate-friendly mineral that could help feed the world

Heat pumps are very expensive

Typically a pump, water tank, radiators and extra insulation cost around £14,000 – reduced to £6,500 after the government grant. This is more than an average gas boiler at around £2,000-£3,000.

Undoubtedly this is a steep upfront sum for many but given heat pumps’ unique ability to deliver more heat with less power means many customers find them cheaper to run.

But this does depend hugely on the price of electricity.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

How do heat pumps actually work?

Fitting heat pumps requires enormous disruption in the home

Unlike the instant hit of heat from a gas boiler, heat pumps warm a greater volume of water over a longer time period in order to regulate and maintain consistent temperatures within the home.

This means they may need bigger radiators with more surface area to deliver the same warmth to a room.

They’re also very well-matched to under floor heating though, depending on how your house is built, this can be more expensive to fit.

Heat pumps are noisy

The government says the noise should not be higher than 45 dB when being one metre away from the window of a neighbouring residential property.

This is variously described as the same volume as whispering in a library, the sound of a babbling brook and quieter than light traffic noise.

They don’t work well in cold weather

Heat pumps are very common in Scandinavian countries, in Sweden making up more than half of all home heating systems.

Temperatures there are routinely sub-zero – much lower than here. Many do have wood burning stoves too but principally for the aesthetic appeal.

Customers don’t like them

A report for the MCS, the body which certifies the technology, found that 80% of people were either satisfied or very satisfied with their heat pump, which is higher than for gas boilers.

Guilt free flying or clever PR? What it was like on Virgin Atlantic’s new 100% sustainable aviation fuel flight | Climate News

“It works!” declares Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson as we cross the Atlantic on this record-breaking flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), largely made up of used cooking oil.

In his affable way, he recalls the times he had to be rescued from the very same ocean during previous record-breaking attempts. We smile along, a little nervously.

There are no ordinary passengers on board the Boeing 787. Instead, milling about the cabin are engineers, scientists, aviation officials, Mark Harper, the transport secretary, and journalists.

So what’s it like to travel on the “fat flyer” as it’s been dubbed?

Well, perhaps a little disappointingly, just like any other flight.

SAF looks, smells and performs just like normal aviation fuel and can be dropped in normal engines without the need for modification.

Sir Richard and Virgin know how to make a big noise about their achievements so, as I look out of the window over the ocean, I ponder is this just another great way to get attention, or actually another important step along the flightpath to what the government likes to call “guilt free flying”?

The truth is, probably a bit of both.

Sky News presenter Jonathan Samuels on the Virgin Atlantic flight using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), largely made up of used cooking oil.
Image:
Sky News presenter Jonathan Samuels on the flight

Virgin Atlantic has, like British Airways and other UK-based airlines, genuinely committed to trying to find a greener, cleaner way of flying.

After all, in a highly competitive market they know passengers are demanding it.

Virgin points out it has one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the skies which has already reduced carbon emissions by more than 20%.

Read more from Sky News:
Virgin Atlantic changes gender policy and uniform rules
Virgin Atlantic fined £870,000 for ‘inadvertent’ flights over Iraq airspace

The airline is working hard to reach the government’s ambitious target to increase the use of SAF to at least 10% by 2030.

This flight however is not 100% emission-free, but rather “net zero” with the airline offsetting carbon emissions made during the journey.

Plus the very process of making SAF uses lots of energy, and SAF critics argue there simply isn’t anything like enough raw material or “feedstock” in the UK to produce it.

WhatsApp picture of a Virgin Atlantic plane being refuelled from Jonathan Samuels
Image:
The Virgin Atlantic plane being refuelled

The Royal Society estimates more than half of all the UK’s agricultural land would be needed to produce enough SAF to replace the jet fuel used by Britain’s aviation sector.

Pressure is being put on the government to help invest in SAF technology and to scale up production.

Green campaigners also point to the growth in flying.

The International Air Transport Association expects the number of passengers to nearly double by 2036, and many environmentalists say the best way to save the planet is to drastically reduce our air miles.

So as flight VS100 ploughs along over the pond don’t be mistaken into thinking it is the answer to all our climate-friendly flying prayers.

Instead, SAF is a mid-term solution to helping make a decent dent in decarbonising aviation while other greener technologies, like hydrogen, are developed.

Energy minister says hydrogen will ‘not play a major role’ in heating homes in the UK | Climate News

The government has given one of its strongest indications yet that it is going cold on hydrogen for home heating.

The energy minister Lord Callanan told The Climate Show with Tom Heap: “It will not play a major role in home heating.

“There’s no way that could be practically achieved”.

When hydrogen burns, it gives off no carbon dioxide as it is pure h2 – there is no carbon in the molecule.

Energy minister Lord Callanan speaks to The Climate Show with Tom Heap
Image:
Energy minister Lord Callanan speaks to The Climate Show with Tom Heap

This has led to considerable interest in using it as a domestic fuel for home heating and cooking to replace natural gas which is methane, a fossil fuel that worsens climate change when it burns.

Natural gas is still the workhorse of domestic energy with roughly three-quarters of UK homes on the gas grid and many supply companies are hoping hydrogen might be close to a ‘drop-in replacement’ for their current fuel.

But opposition has been mounting.

Many scientists point out that it takes enormous amounts of electricity to make clean green hydrogen, and it would be much more efficient to use that electricity directly in our homes to run heat pumps.

Read more from Sky News:
Investigation launched into Worcester Bosch over hydrogen marketing concerns
Potentially misleading boiler marketing over the use of hydrogen removed

The National Infrastructure Commission, the body created by the government to advise on critical fabric for the nation’s economy, has said there is “no public policy case for hydrogen” in domestic heating.

Lord Martin Callanan said: “It is clear that the vast majority of decarbonisation of home heating in the UK will be electrification.

“If we have hydrogen production locally it might play a small role in some localised areas”.

One of those areas could be the Yorkshire coastal town of Redcar, where a pilot project is proposed to swap natural gas for hydrogen and force people to choose between that or a heat pump.

In the Yorkshire coastal town of Redcar, a pilot project is proposed to swap natural gas for hydrogen and force people to choose between that or a heat pump.
Image:
Some gas companies are still insisting there is a role for hydrogen

But there is considerable local opposition, with residents questioning the safety of hydrogen and resenting the imposition of a change to their home heating.

Locals have already rejected a similar hydrogen village idea close to Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

However, some gas companies are still insisting there is a role for hydrogen.

Click to subscribe to ClimateCast with Tom Heap wherever you get your podcasts

Tim Harwood is Hydrogen Programme Director for the supply company Northern Gas, and they are backing the Redcar trial.

“We’re doing this project to demonstrate we can convert the gas network over to hydrogen.

“We can do it safely and we can provide resilience…and customers like it as it doesn’t change their lifestyle very much as it is similar to using natural gas.”

Whether the Redcar hydrogen trial will go ahead is still up in the air, with the government promising a decision before the end of the year.

But overall they seem to be pushing new hydrogen towards industry and away from our homes.

‘Future-proofing’ a classic or ‘taking away its soul’: Ferraris enter 21st century with electric engines | Climate News

Owning a classic car is a sensory experience.

Purists say it’s the feel of the leather, the smell of the fuel, the growl of the engine that brings a classic car to life.

But on an industrial estate in Newtown, mid-Wales, that growl is silenced.

Three Ferrari Testa Rossas, a Maserati Ghibli and a Land Rover are all getting their old engines ripped out and electric motors put in.

CARROLL CLASSIC EVS STILLS FERRARI TESTA ROSSAS_frame_916_MCR56
Image:
Ferrari Testa Rossas at the Electric Classic Cars plant

At this workshop, or “toyshop” as the owner, Richard Morgan, calls it, they’re bringing vintage vehicles into the 21st century.

“We’re future-proofing classic cars to be able to be used regularly.”

There’s a clear production line, with cars getting their engines gutted by the door and then moving into a fabrication area.

Here, bespoke motors are built.

Apart from the engine, nothing in the original car is changed.

One of the classic cars being 'future-proofed'
Image:
This classic car is getting its original engine fixed up to get back on the road

Instead, a team of fabricators play Tetris with batteries, motors and wires, building bespoke engines for every vehicle.

They weld boxes and supports to fit the new electric engine around the car, then bolt them into place.

A Maserati Ghibli is one of the classic cars getting their old engines ripped out and electric motors put in
Image:
A Maserati Ghibli is one of the classic cars getting an electric motors put in

But it’s not just the classic car that is upcycled.

Around 40% of the batteries put into the classics are recycled from other, usually crashed, electric cars.

electric vehicles
Image:
A Maserati Ghibli

They’ve used so many, they say they’ve exhausted the UK supply of second-hand EV batteries.

But for Richard, the founder of Electric Classic Cars, it’s not actually about saving the planet.

“It’s about being able to have the confidence to get into a classic car, and use it as a daily driver.

“When I started doing this years ago, the reaction was, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe you’d do that to a classic car. You’ve ruined it, you’ve taken out the soul.’

CARROLL CLASSIC EVS STILLS FITTING ELECTRIC ENGINE_frame_337_MCR56
Image:
Installing an electric engine

“But as time goes on, and more and more people are driving electric cars, they’re starting to get it.

“They’re starting to understand, ‘Oh, it’s got a bit of poke. It’s quite nice to drive around in a nice, quiet, smooth car’.”

CARROLL CLASSIC EVS STILLS FERRARI TESTA ROSSA WITH OLD ENGINE_frame_479_MCR56
Image:
A Ferrari Testa Rossa with an old engine

CARROLL CLASSIC EVS STILLS FERRARI TESTA ROSSA WITH EV ENGINE_frame_552_MCR56
Image:
A Ferrari Testa Rossa with an electric engine

He sees it like modernising a home – and the cost of fitting one of these motors could pay for a house deposit.

It can range between £20,000 and £120,000 to have your old engine replaced by Richard’s team.

“It’s not done because it’s going to save you money. It’s done because you want to future-proof the classic car for future generations.

“If you live in a really old house, you don’t have your original coal fireplace, you put a modern central heating system in, or you put in double-glazing or a sewage system.

“It’s like that for me. You’re improving the internals to make it more enjoyable and easier to live with on a day-to-day basis.”

Read more:
Nissan commits to 2030 electric deadline
Amazon rainforest river’s at its lowest since 1902

Many petrolheads in the classic car community remain unconvinced, including Jason Mills, the founder of Vintage Vehicle Restorations over the border in Ludlow.

“Purists would argue that it came out of the factory with that engine,” Mr Mills said, “so to restore it with an electric motor just doesn’t seem right.”

The mechanics here have been restoring vehicles for decades, and although they can see the value in making them cleaner and more reliable, it’s the old engine experience that they love.

“It is the sound, the speed, the noise, the smells,” Mr Mills said.

Purists aside, future-proofing these old classics could keep them on the roads for longer – a reliable, clean and extremely indulgent ride.

Greta Thunberg charged with public order offence after London climate protest | UK News

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been charged with a public order offence after a climate protest in central London.

Thunberg, 20, was among 26 people charged over a protest outside the the InterContinental Hotel in Mayfair on Tuesday while oil executives met inside as part of the Energy Intelligence forum.

Officers said they imposed conditions to “prevent disruption to the public” and asked the protesters to move from the road onto the pavement.

The force said this would have allowed the demonstrators to continue protesting legally.

The Metropolitan Police said Thunberg, whose address was given as Dorset, has been charged with failing to comply with a condition imposed under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

She and others were bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 November.

Industry leaders from Shell, Total, Equinor, Saudi Aramco and other oil giants had been at the forum which was the focus of the demonstration which was organised by Fossil Free London.

Read more:
Probe launched into marketing at leading boiler maker
First ever Chinese mitten crab trap installed in UK
Electric truck maker Volta to collapse

Police officers detain Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg during a protest in London

Thunberg told reporters at the protest: “The world is drowning in fossil fuels. Our hopes and dreams and lives are being washed away by a flood of greenwashing and lies.

“It has been clear for decades that the fossil fuel industries were well aware of the consequences of their business models, and yet, they have done nothing.

“The opposite – they have actively delayed, distracted and denied the causes of the climate crisis and spread doubts about their own engagement in it.”

This breaking news story is being updated and more details will be published shortly.

Please refresh the page for the fullest version.

You can receive breaking news alerts on a smartphone or tablet via the Sky News app. You can also follow @SkyNews on X or subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with the latest news.

Sunak was chosen as leader to end the chaos – but his climate announcement may jar with image as stable leader | Politics News

Today the cross-party climate consensus in place for many years was shattered.

Minutes after Rishi Sunak’s press conference concluded, Labour announced they would reverse the most incendiary of all the PM’s promises – to move back the date to ban new petrol cars, from 2030 to 2035.

This puts Labour and the Tories differences on climate at loggerheads going into the election. Climate politics will now inevitably get much uglier.

Politics Live: PM reveals major roll back on net zero policy

Sunak used a press conference today to set out not only a new approach on climate, but a new argument about himself.

Sunak 2.0 is a politician who says that politics doesn’t work, must change, and insists that only he can take decisions in the long-term national interest, puts aside party politics and can take emotion out of heated subjects.

It is quite a claim, and a big journey he needs to take the public on in a small amount of time.

Might the public struggle to be convinced by the protestations of motivational purity?

Today was a climate announcement which many Tory MPs saw as a consequence of the Uxbridge by-election win credited to their opposition of the Ulez emissions scheme – at a point where he is 18 points behind in the polls.

But it helps Sunak that a YouGov poll showed that, individually, these messages are popular – with 44% supporting Sunak’s decision to delay or drop some net zero commitments.

By 50% to 34%, Britons supported the government proposal to push back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2035.

Labour wants to use this moment to cast the Tories as an anti-business party at the mercy of his right flank.

They aren’t keen to have a fight on environmental arguments themselves, conscious that an Ed Miliband led fight might lose the support of some hard-pressed voters.

The danger for Sunak lies elsewhere.

Read More:
Which of the Conservatives’ green policies have been scrapped by Rishi Sunak?

Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts

When he took over from Liz Truss almost a year ago, he was chosen to reduce the political temperature and end the chaos.

Today we had a string of business leaders openly attacking the PM for destabilising business, with blue-on-blue violence as Tory MPs reacted badly to the U-turn.

At the same time, Sunak was insisting that the changes do not represent a watering down of the UK’s climate ambitions, which felt a little redolent of Theresa May’s “nothing has changed” moment.

Sunak’s USP with voters is as someone who channels seriousness and stability. The kinetic response to this announcement may jar with his image.

Onshore wind farms ban to be eased following backbench Tory pressure | Climate News

The government is expected to relax an effective ban on new onshore wind farm projects amid pressure from Conservative rebels.

The changes will likely mean new rules for winning planning permission, so instead of requiring complete agreement, projects will instead only have to demonstrate local support.

Sir Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in 2021, has led Tory backbench pressure over the issue.

He said he wanted a change to the current rules that allow a single objection to block a new onshore development.

It is understood the changes will be set out in a written ministerial statement today, agreed during passage of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, that will come into force with immediate effect.

A government source said: “We are very clear that onshore wind developments should have the consent of, and benefit, local communities.

“However, we want to see the sector thrive and believe that this is an important step forward.”

Sir Alok said MPs who have signed his amendment to the Energy Bill want to see a “much more permissive planning regime” on onshore wind.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We want to see the lifting of the current planning restriction, which means that a single objection to an onshore wind development can block it.

“And of course, allied with this, we want to ensure that local communities who are willing to take onshore wind developments will receive direct community benefits.”

Environmentalists and farmer clash in battle for Britain’s national parks | Climate News

Dartmoor National Park has been at the centre of a couple of overlapping stories this summer: the overturning of a ban on wild camping and arguments over whether livestock farmers were ruining or improving the place for nature.

A question that has echoes across many of our supposedly protected landscapes. So, those rows made good reasons to put my tent in my rucksack and head to the heath.

Dartmoor is 953 sq km and I aimed for Holne Moor, walking about a mile from the road through small clusters, barely herds, of cattle and ponies.

The sheep are a bit more numerous with 145,000 over the whole area.

The vegetation immediately around me is rough grass, stands of bracken and scrubby heather. Beautiful if you admire sparse, less so if you love bounty.

One of the conservationists accusations is that this place is over-grazed, with little variety of species and very few trees. Certainly avoiding the dung was a challenge when finding a camping pitch.

No baying beasts overnight but the morning brought one of the moor’s infamous fogs featured in Sherlock Holmes’ Hound Of The Baskervilles.

Striking camp and setting off through the murk I make a rendezvous with Guy Shrubsole, environmentalist and author who lives nearby.

“Our national parks are in a pretty shocking state for nature… they’ve actually found that on average, they’re in a worse condition than nature is, outside our national parks.

“We’d expect there to be a lot more dwarf shrub heath, things like bilberry and heather growing in much more abundance.

“And that obviously supports a whole range of other species of birds and mammals as well. Dartmoor is a very overgrazed landscape.

“Records suggest that after the second world war there were about 40,000 sheep grazed on the Dartmoor. By 1990 that had risen to something like 130,000.”

He would like to see national parks being a key part of the government’s ambition to have 30% of the UK protected for nature recovery by 2030.

Read more:
Hundreds of water voles reintroduced to Lake District
UK’s largest opencast coal mine confirms closure date
Thousands of hours of fishing still taking place in UK Marine Conservation Zones

But national parks in Britain never have been primarily for wilderness like Yellowstone or Yosemite in America. They are for the people who live there too. And many of the people who live there are farmers.

Plenty of them rear livestock and believe that grazed landscape, not scrubby woodland, is what people flock to see – 18 million visitors a year in Dartmoor – and point out that some wildlife needs pasture.

When we are there, a group curlew chicks relocated from East Anglia is released on Neil Coles’ farm.

He thinks much of the moor is now under-grazed.

“The birds have all gone because it is not the habitat they like. We need a balance of areas. Wooded in the valleys but we also need tight grazing on the top for the ground nesting birds. In a natural situation there would be herbivores, so we are managing that and producing food,” he said.

The vexed question of how many cows, sheep and ponies should be grazing, the moor is the subject of a government commissioned but independent review due to report in the autumn.

It will be scrutinised not just here but across many of our upland parks like The Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors which are facing similar dilemmas.

But the recommendations from government sponsored reports aren’t always followed. Four years ago there was much fanfare over the Glover Review into the future of our national parks.

One of its proposals was that parks should have a duty to enhance nature. That hasn’t been taken up.

Each national park is run by an authority with some control over planning but little real power other than encouraging different groups to talk to each other.

Ironically, they have more power over the built environment than the natural environment.

Kevin Bishop is chief executive of Dartmoor National Park and he wants national parks to be “the beating heart of a nature recovery network”.

So, I asked if he has the power to deliver that?

“We don’t have those powers. We don’t have the resources to do it. The government could change our purposes but without giving us the powers and without giving us the pounds new purposes are, in essence, meaningless.”

The power he really wants is to be able to change the behaviour of farmers by having control over the payments farmers get for looking after nature.

“The most important tool in my book for nature recovery is agri-environment agreements… We have no formal role in the current environment schemes.”

National parks can’t change significantly on their own. Their future rests on the powers we give them and that is a decision for parliament and the nation.

Watch The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, and on YouTube and Twitter.

Horse Hill court battle could set precedent that triggers ‘beginning of the end’ of new fossil fuel projects in UK | Climate News

The company behind a controversial coal mine in West Cumbria and the UK environment regulator are both intervening in a separate court battle over plans to pump oil in the Surrey countryside.

Next month’s Supreme Court case about whether to extract about three million tonnes of oil from Horse Hill is regarded as a test case that could bring the “beginning of the end” of new fossil fuel production in the UK.

The site, near Gatwick, was first approved by Surrey County Council in 2019 but has faced a legal challenge by campaigners ever since, and will next month go before the UK’s highest court.

Unusually, the Supreme Court has permitted four extra bodies to intervene – meaning they can make written or oral submissions to aid the court’s understanding, reflecting the public importance of the case.

Aerial view Horse Hill oil site in Surrey, near Gatwick
Image:
If approved, Horse Hill would extract oil from six wells over 25 years

One of those weighing in is West Cumbria Mining, whose plan to develop the UK’s first new coal mine in 30 years in Whitehaven was controversially approved by the government in December.

WCM did not respond to a request to comment on why it had intervened.

But if the campaigner’s appeal against the Surrey oil site wins next month, it could be “that you have to completely reassess whether that coal mine in Cumbria can happen at all”, according to barrister Sam Fowles.

“It is extremely difficult to overstate the significance of this case,” said Mr Fowles, who specialises in planning and environment law at Cornerstone Barristers.

It has the potential trigger the “beginning of the end of … new fossil fuel extraction in the UK going forward”, he added.

The government is due to make a decision imminently on the giant Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea.

Charles McAllister, director of industry group UK Onshore Oil and Gas, called it “incontrovertible” that the UK needs some oil and gas beyond 2050, “even with huge growth in renewables”.

“It’s a case of where we got it from, not if we need or not.”

Read more:
Power giant Drax told by own advisers to stop calling biomass ‘carbon neutral’
UK at risk of falling behind in race to become green hydrogen global leader, leading firm says
East Africa drought would not have happened without humans, scientists conclude

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Setting the agenda for COP28

‘Clear ramifications’ for future projects

Both the Cumbria coal mine and the Surrey oil case hinge on the same thorny issue plaguing planning authorities presiding over fossil fuel projects.

The question is whether their assessments of the project’s damage to the environment have to factor in only the emissions from getting the fossil fuel out of the ground, or also from when it’s used or burned later “downstream”.

These are known as “scope 3” emissions and tend to make up the majority of a project’s or company’s greenhouse gases. Fossil fuels are the main cause of climate change, which is already threatening the UK via things like rising sea levels and last summer’s intense drought.

Both the Cumbria coal mine and the Horse Hill oil site were approved partly on the basis that these “downstream” emissions need not be taken into account, and therefore overall emissions would be low.

Sarah Finch, the lead campaigner challenging the oil decision, told Sky News: “More than 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be released when the oil from Horse Hill is ultimately burned.”

Katie de Kauwe, a lawyer at campaigning group Friends of the Earth, which is also intervening, said: “It can’t be right that the biggest impacts of fossil fuel projects on people and our planet can effectively be left out when planning decisions are made.

“This is a hugely consequential legal challenge that could have clear ramifications for other fossil fuel developments, including the new coal mine planned in West Cumbria and the legality of the Secretary of State’s decision to approve it.

“West Cumbria Mining is clearly concerned, which is why they’re intervening.”

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Protesters disrupt Barclays meeting

Ms Finch’s initial challenge in the High Court was thrown out. But she took it to the next court, the Court of Appeal, where the three judges were split, with one agreeing she had a point but the majority saying it was a matter for planning authorities rather than the court.

But that creates a huge problem, according to the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) – the UK environment watchdog set up after Brexit in 2021 – which is, for the first time, intervening in a Supreme Court case.

“It means that local planning authorities could reach entirely different conclusions on an important issue of principle on essentially the same facts,” it said in its submission to the court, leaving the law “in an unpredictable state with potentially capricious results”.

Extinction Rebellion activists hold banners as they stage a protest at the Horse Hill oilfield, partly owned by the British energy company UK Oil & Gas, in Surrey, Britain, June 1, 2020. Steve Ringham/Jono/Extinction Rebellion South East/via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Image:
Horse Hill has been challenged by campaigners since it was first approved in 2019

‘Not clear-cut’ if UK should pump more oil and gas – climate advisers

“If it is successful, which I don’t think it will be, it will set a precedent,” said Charles McAllister from UKOOG.

If the campaigners win, it would have “far-reaching implications beyond the onshore oil and gas industry, ranging from the offshore oil and gas industry, mining, metals, manufacturing, aviation”, he warned.

The Horse Hill site would extract around 200,000 barrels of oil over 25 years, which could be used to power jets, create electricity or heat homes. The UK produces about one million barrels of oil a day.

Charles McAllister from UK Onshore Oil and Gas
Image:
UK Onshore Oil and Gas says its greener to extract oil at home

Independent government climate advisers from the CCC have said the UK will need some oil until 2050, though it is “not clear-cut” whether it should produce more domestically.

The International Energy Agency has said no new fossil fuel project is compatible with the globally accepted goal of limiting warming to 1.5C.

UK Oil and Gas, the main developers of Horse Hill, declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Surrey County Council said it is “required to determine planning applications in accordance with the Development Plan, the National Planning Policy Framework, national policy and other material considerations, as set out in legislation and case law.

“The County Council will present its case to the Supreme Court, which will issue a decision in due course.”

Watch The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, and on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.