French Court May Return Total’s Shale Gas Rights In The Ardeche, Protests Expected




There are signs that the French oil giant Total may win a court case seeking to annul an earlier revocation of its permit to drill for shale gas over several thousand km2 in the Drôme, Ardèche, Gard, Vaucluse and Herault.

Ardèche residents and local Mayors at earlier protest against fracking (Credit Twitter)

Ardèche residents and local Mayors at earlier protest against fracking (Credit Twitter)

According to a report on France Bleu radio  the public rapporteur advised a hearing at Cergy-Pontoise Administrative Court on January 8 to grant an application by Total Montélimar that seeks to restore its rights to exploit shale gas in this extensive rural region.  The  rapporteur’s advise is normally followed by these courts.

If the ruling, which will only be determined at the end of January, is favourable it will come in the face of massive nationwide opposition that five years ago led  to a ban on all shale gas exploration in France until an eco-friendly alternative to fracking can be found.

In September 2012 François Hollande pledged he: “would reject all fracking permits  during the five years of my term in office”. Likewise in July 2013 his office tweeted the following firm pledge: “There will be no fracking in France while I am President”:

 

At the Friday morning hearing the public rapporteur justified his reason for finding in favour of the Total application saying that the oil company had filed a technical brief confirming its shale exploitation project would not use hydraulic fracturing. However France Bleu reported that Total nevertheless remained vague about what its alternative techniques for extracting shale gas were. But the rapporteur’s argument appeared to be sufficiently focused to convince the tribunal.

The lawyer representing groups opposed to shale gas drilling in France, cautioned that in this case,  the state, had failed to show any vigorous intent to fight the application . “We trust the government will emerge from its silence if the court does indeed find in Total’s favour “, she added.

Last month, the Cergy-Pontoise Administrative Court confirmed the validity of the abrogation ordered in 2011-  of two shale gas exploration permits — Schuepbach Aveyron and Ardèche — granted in 2010 and in that decision the court followed the public rapporteur’s advise.

Back in 2010 French News Online was the first English language publication based in France to report on French concerns about fracking.For months we lead the reporting on campaigns as they spread across the country. Read more on the battle against gaz de schiste here:

 

Story: Ken Pottinger
editorial@french-news-online.com



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