Seahorse Trust seeking a judicial review of decision to drill for oil in Poole Bay

The Seahorse Trust reports, March 2019: The Seahorse Trust (through its Director Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNA) is challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to allow drilling for oil in Poole Bay, Dorset without proper environmental impact assessment of the proposal.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy authorised Corallian Energy Limited to drill for oil in Poole Bay, Dorset without undertaking a lawful environmental impact assessment of the proposal and did the same again when Corallian applied for consent to continue drilling beyond the time allowed for in its permit.

When the Secretary of State gave notice of the original proposal for drilling in January 2018, the Seahorse Trust and many others objected 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.

The Secretary of State then 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.

An Ensco 72 drilling rig arrived in Poole Bay on 2nd February and drilling operations commenced on 6th February 2019.

4 dolphins, 1 seal and two seahorses were then washed up dead.

It was then reported by the BBC that the oil drilling had been given a one month extension, despite the fact that consultees such as Natural England had raised concerns about the effect of the effect of drilling in the spring months on sensitive species.

The application for an extension to the drilling was not lawfully consulted upon nor was it done in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.

The Seahorse Trust wants 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. The Seahorse Trust 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.

To challenge the system, we need your help – whatever you can afford to donate! We need to raise £12,000 to ensure that we can fight this case all the way through the courts.

If for any unexpected reason we raise more money than we need to spend on this case then unspent funds will be allocated to other legal challenges on the Crowdjustice crowdfunding page.  These might be future legal challenges taken by the Seahorse Trust or other environmental challenges.


Source: Seahorse Trust, March 2019. To assist the Trust, see


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