March date for legal challenges to ministerial ruling on Cuadrilla fracking site



Preston New Road. Photo: Ami Roberts

Legal challenges to a ministerial ruling giving the go ahead to Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire will be heard next month (March).

An order issued today by the High Court has listed the case for three days, starting on 15 March 2017. The court had previously agreed to hear the case in Manchester.

The two challenges have been brought against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, by Preston New Road Action Group and Gayzer Frackman.

On 6 October 2016, Mr Javid announced he was granting planning permission to Cuadrilla for drilling, fracking and testing up to four shale gas wells at the Preston New Road site. His decision overruled the refusal of planning permission by Lancashire County Council in June 2015. But Mr Javid followed the recommendation of the planning inspector at a public inquiry earlier in 2016.


Today’s order by Mr Justice Dove said the challenges would be dealt with as a rolled-up hearing. This means the judge will decide on whether the challenge should go ahead and the substance of the case at the same hearing.

He confirmed that the challenge by Mr Frackman would be dealt with under the Aarhus Convention. This means his costs, if his challenge failed, would be capped at £5,000.

Roseacre Wood

The order also referred to a third case: a challenge by a Roseacre resident to Mr Javid’s decision to reopen the public inquiry on Cuadrilla’s other site at Roseacre Wood. The planning inspector had recommended refusal of this scheme on highway safety grounds. But Mr Javid said Cuadrilla should be given another chance to present evidence on traffic issues.

Mr Justice Dove said he was minded to list this case immediately after the completion of the Preston New Road challenges.

“There is a clear interest in making the best use of court resources and taking the opportunity given the commonality of most counsel in the case to have the heard case heard at that time.”

He said he would make a decision on the listing of this case after receiving submissions by the afternoon of Thursday 23 February 2017.

Preston New Road comment

A spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group said:

“We are pleased to confirm that Preston New Road Action Group now has a court date of 15th March, for our case against the Secretary of State.

“The stance by Sajid Javid to overturn Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse Cuadrilla is not democracy in action: it is a top-down abuse of power to facilitate a powerful corporation over a community’s wishes.

“We believe it is fundamentally wrong that the Secretary of State, who is not local, does not represent us nor has been present during any of planning inquiries or hearings for the last three years, has intervened in favour of Cuadrilla.

“Over 100,000 people wrote letters of objection to this fracking application. Our parish council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council rejected this application. They had a duty of care to local residents and they fulfilled that duty. They carefully determined that the risks of this industry far outweighed any benefits. Lancashire very loudly, said no.

“The scientific evidence and testimonies presented by our community and expert witnesses clearly demonstrated harm from noise, risk to the environment and our health, with unmitigable waste management issues. Cuadrilla failed to answer adequately on any of these topics. There is no way they can safely reduce the harm or indeed the dismantling of our basic right to breathe clean air and enjoy the peaceful environment of their homes.

“300 elderly residents aged 60-90 will be within 1000 metres of this site, some within a few hundred metres proximity. It will operate noisily in a rural area seven days a week, 24 hours a day and pump out methane gas into our environment for 90 days at a time.

“We find this decision entirely unacceptable, fundamentally flawed and we seek to demonstrate this within a court setting.”

More details

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

Climate change becomes fracking’s legal battle ground

This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

46 replies »

  1. Martin – you said “if you wanted to look. I really would not follow Refracktions strange world of economics, where he thinks someone would invest in AJL to access the fracking industry when their core business is tied to the Australian mining industry. (It would be like investing in Lloyds Bank to get a chunk of the car leasing sector.)”

    But look – here’s what is being said on Hot Copper today after AJL’s abysmal half year results:

    “I think we always knew the shale venture in the u.k. was going to be the saviour for us, and it mist likely will prove to be, but don’t let’s throw the baby out with the bath water.”

    Better get on there and tell MichaelGD (we know him here as Michael Dobbie I think don’t we?) not to be so silly!

  2. Refracktion-being really polite, please do try to learn to read a balance sheet before you claim to know anything about economics. Do you know, you can even access that data on Google?? Don’t you think anyone else (the ripped off investors) can do the same, or will they be swayed by your greater knowledge? Just take a general look at the Australian mining industry as a whole, where they are tied into the China market, it is quite simple. Boom and bust is a familiar term surely?
    Maybe you really know why Ineos moved their offices to Switzerland, and then back to UK? (although you failed to make that point yourself-I wonder why?) Try asking Gordon Brown. Or answer a simple question, what is better-all the taxation from UK employees at Ineos to the government for funding services, or little taxation from UK employees because most are redundant, and the business is being run into the ground by the banks?

    Look, no feet.

    Come back PhilC please, you were a bit off-piste, but you were a challenge.

    • I’m right here martin, just taking a step back for a wider view.
      The attempt at sowing division is transparent, like you I was trained in management and negotiation techniques including how to split and divide opponents into manageable isolated factions.
      It won’t work, I have every respect for refracktion, he has areas of expertise I don’t have. So you are barking up the wrong tree there. Better off piste than half piste perhaps?
      As regards financial mumbo jumbo I’ve seen enough financial reports and forecasts to see that a Wiley Coyote financial manager bends like a bough of the stupid tree in the wind and usually ends up falling out of his tree hitting every branch on the way down. As an engineer I ended up being forced to produce the cheapest solution, not the best engineering solution, which is largely why I left to spend my time amongst human beings not bean counting slaves.
      Money and the manipulation of it is like lies, damn lies and statistics, good for amusement or to fool the public, but ultimately a waste of space, time, energy and oxygen. Fracking sadly follows that descending spiral into farce.

  3. Just a little thought Refracktion.

    If investors were to want to buy into AJL to get an involvement into Cuadrilla (according to your world of economics) , would simple maths. not tell them-go for it NOW!? Is there a huge flow of funds into their business at the moment?

    You see Refracktion, as I used to advise when I mentored colleagues in negotiation technique. “Find out if the person you are dealing with knows the subject. If they admit they are not fully up to speed with an item, it gives you one piece of information about them. If they tell you they are very knowledgeable about that item, you can soon identify they are not, and that gives you two pieces of information about them.”

    I admit that was when such things happened face to face, but it is just as valuable with social media.

    • Martin – I’ve run two businesses at the same time – I can read a balance sheet. I can also read a profit & loss account and do simple arithmetic. I can also read English which allows me to follow the investor sentiment on the stock bulletin boards. You should try it instead of waffling on about your advanced negotiation capabilities LOL.

      One thing I really don’t give a tuppeny **** about is whether anyone uses what I say as stock purchasing advice. If any speculators want to buy into the wonderful opportunities that are iGas and AJL nobody will be happier than me – they’ll deserve what they get. Isn’t karma lovely?

      Surely you are not suggesting that INEOS will close Grangemouth if they don’t get to frack in the UK? After they invested all that capital on an LNG terminal?

      I have no idea what sort of fantasy world you live in but I won’t be taking investment advice from you any time soon my footless friend. 🙂

  4. hballpeenyahoocom

    NO, NO, NO, NO, NO

    I’m truly stunned that you are trying to imply these are mainly, quote, “FRESHWATER leaks.” It does NOT say that .

    Here is the link, please everybody read it and make your own minds.

    Thousand and thousands of leaks in each state of the US where fracking is taking place and you call that a low amount.

    It is also noted that the true figure for leaks could be a lot, lot higher and you call this a “good track record for the industry.”

    One of the spills was 100,000 litres……

    It says that there are MANY thousands of leaks in different States of the US where fracking is taking place and you now expect people to sit by and allow these companies to frack close to people’s homes and schools in the UK ?

    With the possibility that many of these leaks could be highly toxic and radioactive, you can now understand why many of the UK’s leading insurance companies are refusing to insure, or wanting to impose special conditions on people’s home policies if they live in areas prone to flooding where fracking is going to place.

    Householders Affected By Floods Face Insurance Double Whammy If They Live Near Planned Fracking Site

    Like you say, the US has been Fracking for some time now. If Fracking was to ever get started in the UK, the time to start would of been back when the US first started, when the population was naive and gullable to the industry hype.
    In the US, the chickens are now coming home to roost for this type of industry and the people of the UK do NOT like what they see. For this reason alone, the industry will never get legs in the UK.

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