Greenpeace has confirmed it will take legal action against the UK Government over claims it failed to check the environmental impact of burning gas from the Jackdaw gas field off the coast of Aberdeen.
The UK government gave its approval for Shell to develop the field for gas extraction on June 2.
It comes as the UK has faced a summer of unprecedented heat, say campaigners, and Greenpeace warns if gas from Jackdaw is burnt, it could produce CO2 emissions equivalent to more than that of Ghana.
Philip Evans, oil and gas transition campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “This Jackdaw approval is a scandal.
“The Government knows that burning fossil fuels drives the climate crisis, yet they’re approving a new gas field in June, without proper climate checks, and declaring a national emergency over heatwaves in July.
“Meanwhile household bills are soaring, and the Government is ignoring common-sense solutions – like home insulation, heat pumps and cheap renewable power.
“We believe this is an astonishing dereliction of the Government’s legal duty, and we won’t let it stand.
“So we’re taking legal action to stop Jackdaw, and whenever we see the government acting unlawfully to greenlight new fossil fuels we stand ready to fight in the courts.”
Climate campaigners in Scotland have welcomed the announcement.
Friends of the Earth Scotland say the legal challenge will “send a strong message” to the Government that climate campaigners will oppose fossil fuel expansion in “every way” they can.
Freya Aitchison, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Climate scientists and energy experts alike are clear that we cannot afford any more gas extraction if we are to limit dangerous warming, yet the UK Government is ploughing ahead with licensing projects like Jackdaw which will lock us into continued reliance on fossil fuels for decades to come.”
The group says the field would produce the equivalent of “half the annual emissions of Scotland” if burned.
Ms Aitchison added: “The fact is that any gas extracted will belong to energy giant Shell, who will sell it on the open market to boost their huge profits, so it won’t bring down our soaring energy prices at all. This project cannot be allowed to go ahead.
“The UK Government must stop issuing any new fossil fuel licences and instead start planning for a managed phase-out of production, with a just transition for workers and communities.”