Ottery charity takes legal challenge to Royal Courts of Justice

Members of the Seahorse Trust and legal team made their case to the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture

Members of the Seahorse Trust and legal team made their case to the Royal Courts of Justice. Picture: Seahorse Trust - Credit: Archant

An Ottery charity is taking its legal challenge against an offshore drilling project to the Royal Courts of Justice.

The Seahorse Trust and its founder Neil Garrick-Maidment launched a challenge against the Secretary of State and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) for authorising exploratory drilling of oil in Poole Bay.

The area north east of Studland Bay is an important breeding site for several native seahorse species.

Mr Garrick-Maidment, founder and executive director of the trust, is seeking a declaration from the court that current legislation is not fit for purpose and needs to be amended.

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.

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On Wednesday (July 24), permission to start judicial review proceedings was granted by the High Court.

There will be a full two-day substantive hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice later this year.

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Mr Garrick-Maidment said: "I am delighted with the judge's decision. The law at the moment is not fit for purpose and must now be relooked at.

"Although this drilling has already gone ahead, it is crucial that this cannot happen again.

"Ordinary people must be given the chance to challenge the granting of licenses to the oil industry and that the environmental impact assessments must be done correctly. Thank you everyone to who supported us, fundraised and who care."

The Seahorse Trust, based near Ottery St Mary, was founded in 1999 to preserve and conserve the natural world, especially the marine environment, with the seahorse as its flagship species.

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