We're in a climate crisis, and we need to reduce our carbon emissions. It's clear that new fossil fuel developments, including extracting new oil, coal and gas that'll add more emissions to the atmosphere, aren't compatible with tackling climate change.
That's why we're fighting planned new coal, oil and gas developments across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We're standing alongside local communities, and together we're taking cases to court to challenge the approval of these new fossil fuel projects.
Our legal arguments for Whitehaven and Horse Hill include that these planning decisions need to take into account the carbon emissions that'll result when these fuels are burnt, rather than just the emissions when they're extracted.
Fossil fuel sites map
We've mapped out the fossil fuel sites across England and Wales. 92 active oil and gas sites, with 279 operating wells between them, and 3 opencast coal mines.
Astonishingly there are 19 sites planning new activity. Bringing more oil, gas and coal out of the ground. This is totally incompatible with the UK's climate targets. We're fighting with local communities to challenge some of these decisions in court.
Communities fighting back
The climate crisis is a global issue, but drilling and mining for fossil fuels is happening within local communities - and that's where the fightback starts.
Meet the community groups saying no to dirty fossil fuels on their doorstep. We're standing with these groups, taking local campaigns to the highest courts. We've seen communities celebrate the shutdown of fossil fuel sites, and now we're waiting for the courts to decide if the full climate impact should be considered when these developments are decided.
Horse Hill oil development
Together with local campaigners Weald Action Group, we've been to court to appeal the decision by Surrey County Council to allow drilling for oil at Horse Hill. We argued that the emissions from burning the oil should have been considered, not just emissions from the oil drilling itself.
The Supreme Court heard this landmark case in June 2023 and we await its judgment. Its decision could also have an impact on the Whitehaven coal mine case and all future planning applications for oil and gas extraction.
Whitehaven coal mine
The UK's first new coal mine in over 30 years was approved in December 2022. We've launched a legal challenge against the decision. The High Court has agreed to hear the case once the Supreme Court has handed down its judgment on our Horse Hill challenge, as the outcome of this case could open up new grounds for lawyers to argue against the mine’s approval.
Our arguments include the application not taking into account the full climate emissions from burning the coal, the international impact of the decision and the lack of demand for the coal.
No Gas Caverns in Northern Ireland
7 huge underground caverns for storing gas are set to be excavated under Larne Lough. They'd make a hypersaline "dead zone" in a marine protected area, where no animals or plants could survive.
We're working with local campaigning group No Gas Caverns and have taken a case to the High Court in Belfast. For the first time the courts are considering how new fossil fuel developments relate to the Northern Ireland Climate Change Act 2022, which we successfully campaigned for. We now await the court's judgment.
No more mining at Ffos y Fran
Ffos y Fran, UK's largest opencast mine, is to close after councillors unanimously decided to reject an application to continue mining until March 2024.
This decision in April 2023 follows years of campaigning by Merthyr Tydfil Friends of the Earth and other local community groups.
Mining has continued unlawfully since last September, the company now says they will stop mining in November. We’ll be holding them to their duty to restore the site.