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High Court grants judicial review of decision to allow drilling for oil in Poole bay

Wildlife group The Seahorse Trust has been successful in its application for a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision to allow Corallian Energy to set up an oil rig in Poole Bay, Dorset.

Last week, a High Court Judge agreed that the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s decision, which the trust claim failed to allow for a lawful Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the proposal, should be subject to full judicial review.

In their challenge, the Seahorse Trust also asserted that Corallian failed to undertake a lawful EIA for a second time when they applied for consent to continue drilling beyond the time allowed for in its permit.

The trust also claimed that when the Secretary of State took the decision to allow the drilling, he failed to notify objectors that this decision had been taken within the six-week challenge period other than in the London Gazette.

The Seahorse Trust began its campaign in April 2019 and crowd sourced over £12,000 through Crowd Justice.

In their crowdfunding appeal they claimed that authorising and extending the drilling license in the bay “may have been responsible for the deaths of 4 dolphins, 1 seal and 10 seahorses”.

In the same month as the Seahorse Trusts appeal, concerns were also raised by the Dorset Wildlife Trust which reported that an “unusually high” number of dead seahorses were washing up on the county’s beaches.

The trust’s April 2019 statement added that the hearing will hopefully “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.”

The date for the hearing is yet to be announced.

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