The decision by North Yorkshire County Council to approve plans by Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton is to be challenged in court.
Friends of the Earth and members of local residents’ group, Frack Free Ryedale, applied today to the High Court for a judicial review.
On May 23, the council’s planning committee voted by seven to four to approve Third Energy’s application to frack, test and produce gas from its KM8 well for up to nine years. There were 4,375 objections to the application and 36 letters in support.
The groups said they believed the council’s decision was unlawful because it:
- Failed properly to assess climate change by not considering the environmental impact of burning gas from KM8 at a nearby power station at Knapton;
- Failed to secure long-term financial protection against any environmental damage.
North Yorkshire County Council said this morning:
“North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee gave proper regard to all material planning considerations before approving the application by Third Energy to undertake fracking for shale gas in the vicinity of Kirby Misperton.”
A spokesperson for Third Energy said:
“Third Energy has not yet seen the applications for judicial review and so cannot comment directly. North Yorkshire Country Council approved Third Energy’s application after an extremely long, thorough investigation and hearing and we have confidence that the council followed all due processes.”
Friends of the Earth has instructed Leigh Day solicitors and the barrister, David Wolfe, QC, both of whom specialise in judicial reviews.
Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire and Humber campaigner, said:
“Shale gas is a dirty fossil fuel and it is the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council to require a full assessment of the impact this fracking application would have on the climate. They failed to do that, and this is why we believe the courts need to consider the way that this decision was arrived at by seven councillors in May.”
David Davis, a retired chartered surveyor from the Ryedale village of Hovingham, said:
“Concerned local residents have spent many hours considering the application, submitting evidence and raising their concerns in front of the Planning Committee. Despite all this, the County Council have let the people of North Yorkshire down by failing to address these crucial factors.
“Our only recourse is to challenge this decision in the courts and hope that justice will be served.”
Jackie Cray, a retired vicar from Kirby Misperton, said:
“North Yorkshire County Council has a moral and legal responsibility to ensure against harm to current and future generations.
“We believe that they have failed in that duty in two key areas, climate change as well as making sure that there is enough money to clean up if anything went wrong.
“We call on the High Court to ensure that this crucial decision for our village and the wider population is made lawfully.”
A judicial review is the only challenge open to opponents of a planning permission. But it examines just the way in which a decision was made, not the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached. If successful, the court can quash a decision.
The Kirby Misperton case will now go the Permission Stage where the High Court will decide whether or not there should be a full hearing. This initial decision is expected to happen in the next few weeks.
Leigh Day and David Wolfe QC represented Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association in its judicial review in November 2014. This failed to overturn the decision by West Sussex County Council to approve plans by Cuadrilla to test the flow of oil at its well in Balcombe.
A judicial review of the approval by Lancashire County Council of Cuadrilla’s monitoring plans at Roseacre Wood has been postponed. A decision on whether to pursue it will be made when the outcome is known of Cuadrilla’s appeals, now expected by October.