A challenge to the approval of plans by Third Energy to frack for shale gas at Kirby Misperton will be heard in the High Court in London next week.
Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth have applied for a judicial review of the decision by North Yorkshire County Council made in May this year.
The groups are claiming that the decision to approve planning permission was unlawful because the council:
- Failed to assess properly the climate change impact of shale gas extracted by the fracking and burnt at a nearby power station in Knapton
- Failed to secure long-term financial protection against the likely environmental damage to the area
The case begins on Tuesday 22 November. If the judge at the Royal Courts of Justice gives permission for the judicial review, the full hearing will go ahead immediately and is likely to continue on Wednesday 23 November.
The approval by the council’s planning committee was the first decision in favour of fracking in the UK since a moratorium was lifted in 2012.
Reverend Jackie Cray, a retired vicar who lives less than half a mile from Third Energy’s site, is representing Frack Free Ryedale, along with David Davies, a retired chartered surveyor from Hovingham.
Rev Cray said:
“This application was opposed by the Ryedale District Council, every Ryedale town council, 15 parish councils, businesses such as Flamingo Land, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Castle Howard Estate, and dozens of other groups and local businesses.
“The County Council received 4,375 objections against the application and only 36 letters in favour, yet still approved the plans. We can’t call this democracy.”
Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire and Humber campaigner, Simon Bowens, said:
“North Yorkshire County Council failed in their legal duty to fully assess the impact this fracking application would have on the climate and in protecting their local communities against long term financial risks.
“We are really fired up for our day in court because shale gas is a dirty fossil fuel. It’s why we are calling on the judge to see that justice is done for the community of Kirby Misperton and for the millions of people affected by catastrophic climate change.
“We can’t afford to allow the fracking industry to just go on putting communities across the world at risk by developing a new, dirty, fossil fuel.”
Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, the law firm representing Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth, said:
“We believe North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow fracking in Ryedale was clearly unlawful, owing to a failure to consider the climate change impact, despite earlier reports saying it was a relevant factor, and an error of law in concluding that a financial bond to protect long-term damage to the local environment could not be asked for, when in fact it could have been.
“These points are plainly arguable, so we fully expect that our clients’ application for judicial review will be given permission, and we hope that the court quashes the planning permission for fracking.”
A statement from North Yorkshire County Council said:
“North Yorkshire County Council is awaiting the High Court’s decision whether or not to grant a judicial review.
“The 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.”
Third Energy said:
“North Yorkshire County Council conducted an exhaustive investigation into Third Energy’s application to test frac an existing well at Kirby Misperton and we have every confidence that the council officials and the elected representatives on the planning committee followed all due procedures in reaching their decision.
“Our planned [fracking] operation at KM8 is scheduled to last less than three months yet the process of obtaining permission to proceed has already taken nearly two years.”
The company’s permission also includes up to nine years of production
- Yesterday, a community group in Lancashire began a legal challenge to the decision by the Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, to approve fracking at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, overruling the county council. Also yesterday, a resident began a challenge to Mr Javid’s decision to reopen a public inquiry into fracking at Roseacre Wood. DrillOrDrop report