Manchester to hear all legal challenges to Cuadrilla fracking rulings – against government wishes

Photo by Steve Fareham [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Judges in Manchester are to hear all three legal challenges to rulings by the Secretary of State over fracking in Lancashire.

The government had wanted all the cases to be decided at one hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

But DrillOrDrop understands they are now to be considered at the High Court in Manchester because they are regarded as cases of local importance.

The Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, faces two challenges to his decision to grant planning permission to Cuadrilla for drilling, fracking and testing at Preston New Road. One is by Preston New Road Action Group and the other by an individual campaigner, Gayzer Frackman.

Mr Javid also faces a challenge to his decision to reopen the public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s other proposed site at Roseacre Wood.

His decision on Preston New Road overruled the refusal of planning permission by Lancashire County Council but followed the recommendation of the inspector at a public inquiry.

The Preston New Road challenges had been lodged in Manchester but then sent to London. DrillOrDrop has seen an order signed earlier this week by Mr Justice Dove which said they should be decided in Manchester. The judge said:

“In my view both of these cases have a clear and strong local connection and should be transferred to Manchester for the purposes of the hearing. In my view it is very important that these cases should be heard by a High Court judge with significant planning experience.”

The order said the Preston New Road cases should be heard together. They will be considered in what is known as a “rolled-up hearing”, where the judge will decide on whether the challenge should be allowed and the substance of the challenges at the same time.

The case is expected to last two days. No date has yet been set for the hearing but Mr Justice Dove said

“these cases should be expedited and heard as soon as practicable”.

Roseacre Wood

On Roseacre Wood, the planning inspector recommended refusal of permission. But Mr Javid said he was minded to grant consent if concerns about traffic and highway safety could be resolved.

His decision to reopen the public inquiry to allow Cuadrilla to present more evidence has been challenged by Roseacre resident, Jules Burton.

Mr Burton had objected to his case being decided in London and he said today he had been told it would also be heard in Manchester.

“I am absolutely delighted. There was a feeling that these were large local cases that should be heard locally. There are senior planning judges in Manchester and they will hear the cases.”

Mr Burton has said the Secretary of State’s decision to reopen the inquiry was “irrational”, “tainted by bias” and amounted to an abuse of power. In his case, he argued:

“Cuadrilla has known since before its planning application was made that the effect of the proposed development on highway safety was an important and controversial issue. It has had numerous opportunities to produce a scheme that addressed the concerns of Lancashire County Council and other parties. It has failed to do so.

“There is no reason to suppose that a further opportunity will result in a different outcome.

“Where, as here, there is no new issue, merely a failure by one party to make good its case, it is an abuse of the inquiry rules to give that party an opportunity to re-argue its case.

“It is inconceivable that the Secretary of State would allow an unsuccessful objector an opportunity to present new evidence after an inquiry had closed, yet here the Secretary of State is prepared to give Cuadrilla the same opportunity.

“He has done so without offering any party the chance to make representations on whether the inquiry should be re-opened; without giving consideration to the prejudice that would be suffered by objectors (most of whom do not have Cuadrilla’s deep pockets) and without considering the distress that will be caused to the local community, which has lived in the shadow of these proposals for over two years.”

There is no date yet for this challenge.

7 replies »

  1. This is definitely the only story in fracking right now. If the H.C. rejects the antis it’s 100% game over for them. If it upholds argument it’s only another small delay till inevitability.
    Knowing a fair bit about law and what the inside of a courtroom actually looks like (usually making someone pay) I am not concerned whatsoever by these challenges. However, as a gesture of hope to my less well dressed friends I am surprised that Manchester H.C. has decided to put itself under intense scrutiny. The N.W. of England is crime ridden due to poverty and lack of genuine work. I’d be very careful what you wish for.

    • The industry, the PR machine and the lobbying companies have failed miserably to gain respect from the people.

      We are in the seventh year since fracking applications were submitted.

      Not a whiff of gas. Just lots and lots of speculators money being transferred to directors bank accounts and companies unable to produce the promised goods.

      Seven long years of nothing but empty promises. It must have been frustrating to wake up every day over the last seven years and see the industry losing ground to the might of local communities.

      More challenges, more objections and more support pouring in every day.

      Saying things like ‘game over’ ‘it wont be long now’ and ‘just you wait and see’ is frankly hilarious after seven years of total failure.

      However, do keep hope (a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen) that the industry will develop but based on the facts of the last seven years your hope is looking decisively dashed.

      Shale has failed

    • MR M :- ‘The N.W. of England is crime ridden due to poverty and lack of genuine work.’

      Compared to where ??, I live in Lancshire and there are lot’s of jobs advertised each week !. I don’t argree with your sweeping statement.

  2. Yes, the crime ridden, poverty stricken ( Desolate North ) is a great place to have as the Fracking and Incinerator capital.
    ( sorry, Centre Of Excellence as fracking companies have said. )

    We have already had an Incinartor dumped in our congested, highly polluted area after a government minister ( who lives far, FAR out of the area ) overturned Trafford Councils rejection .
    Pollution levels for the area in Davyhulme were shown to be above legal EU limits on various days and very close to limits on others, although this clearly didn’t affect the decision. ( see Breath Clean Air Group website )
    They even allowed the chimney stack of the incinerator to be greatly reduced below what was considered to be the ideal height to facilitate a small privately owned airport, incidently who’s owners are the ones who fought against the will of the people to put the Incinerator in their densely populated area.
    The incinerator, I was told would create 11 permanent jobs

    Fracking ……. Apart from the small handful of skilled jobs which probably would be shipped in from other parts of the UK/World. Can anyone tell me, exactly how many low skilled menial jobs will be created for the area by a fracking site and what the increase in pollution will be ??

  3. We know the myth but here is the first application at Becconsall where Cuadrilla state amount of jobs for exploratory and commercial extraction.

    This is of course before they needed to invent statistics to try and gain favour.

    Page 4 section 1.6 “Benefits of the Development”

    Quick, open hotels and restaurants. Buy property to rent out. The ‘Aberdeen Effect’ is on it’s way. Thousands of workers with cash to spend. The Becconsall Bonanza has arrived.

  4. The protesters are certainly give the frackers a good run for their money. Their relentless compaign certainly has paid off otherwiseMr Justice Dove would not see this as a local concern.

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