Campaigners take minister to court over consent for Lancashire fracking plans

Preston New Road 10 March 2017 Frack Free Creators Knitting Nannas of Lancashire

Preston New Road shale gas site. Photo: Frack Free Creators Knitting Nannas of Lancashire

Opponents of plans to frack in Lancashire will be at the High Court in Manchester on Wednesday to challenge the approval of planning permission for Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.

The Preston New Road Action Group and an individual campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, are bringing separate statutory challenges to the consent, granted on 6 October 2016 by the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid.

He followed the advice of the planning inspector at a 19-day public inquiry but overruled Lancashire County Council, which refused permission for the site in June 2015.

The case before the Honourable Mr Justice Dove is expected to last three days.

It will not examine the rights or wrongs of fracking at the site. Instead it will look at whether Mr Javid followed the law correctly in reaching his decision. Both challenges seek to persuade the judge that Mr Javid’s decision was unlawful and should be quashed.

Mr Frackman’s case, led by Marc Willers QC, of Garden Court Chambers, and Estelle Dehon, of Cornerstone Chambers, centres on when the effects of hydrocarbon production on climate change should be assessed. It will examine whether regulation can control effectively the impacts on public health.

According to papers seen by DrillOrDrop, the legal team will argue that Mr Javid failed to consider the cumulative effects of shale gas on climate change and public health and this failure was against the EU Environmental Impact Assessment

The Secretary of State is expected to argue that shale gas is consistent with the aim of the UK planning policy to support the transition to a low carbon future. His case is that the Lancashire sites represented “a positive contribution towards the reduction of carbon” and so should have been approved.

Mr Frackman, a children’s entertainer who changed his name by deedpoll, has been crowdfunding his case. With 17 days to go to his funding deadline, he has raised nearly £14,000 of the £22,000 he needs.

The case brought by Preston New Road Action Group will seek to show that points of law were not observed on the impacts of the fracking site on the landscape.

The group’s legal team, from Leigh Day, will argue that planning policies which were part of the case made to the public inquiry were misinterpreted.

As well as the government’s defence, the hearing will also hear from Cuadrilla, as an interested party.

DrillOrDrop will be reporting from Manchester Family and Civil Justice Centre. The hearings are expected to begin at 9.30am each day.

Roseacre Wood challenge

A third challenge to Mr Javid, brought by a Roseacre resident, is expected to be heard in the summer. Jules Burton is opposing Mr Javid’s decision to reopen the public inquiry on fracking at Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Wood site when the planning inspector had recommended refusal of permission.

Mr Burton will argue that the decision was “irrational”, “tainted by bias” and amounted to an abuse of power. More details

18 replies »

  1. Got the popcorn ready… the more I read the details of their case the more I laugh. Talk about wasting your cash on lawyer and court fee’s!
    [Edited by moderator]

  2. I think the government has a strong case because by statutory the minister has the power to overturn the local council decision. Anyway the PNR is recommended by both the local planner and inquiry so the minister can’t be wrong because the decision is in accordance to local planning law. Regarding climate change shale gas is to displace future import so it is consistent with national policy which is reco8by the Parliamentary Climate Change Committee report. I am not sure if the challenge read all these policies and reports before they take the matter to court.

  3. If Gayzer Frackman and PNR Action Group win I will dance and sing all the way down the A583 and dance outside the gates that lead to The Well To Hell.
    If they do not I will seek them out and shake their hands.
    And say It is far better to try and fail than not to try at all.
    And also say this ain’t over yet.
    Good evening to you all whatever your views are.

    • TW – that’s actually very interesting, but, with so many “mays” and “ifs” there is clearly no proof that natural cycles of climate change are “systemic” 😉

    • The point is, climate change is happening, its a process we do not completely understand and our ability to measure it is dismally flawed and based upon all sorts of dodgy science and admittedly limited measurement. For any scientific body to declare something is, or is not absolutely and definitively man made or not is patently ridiculous.
      The earth is heating up from the core outwards due to sun cycles the atmosphere is heating up due to the recent waves of cosmic energy passing through this region of space.
      Humans are destroying the earths ability to recover by our polluting the atmosphere, destroying forest ocean and air carbon and heat sinks across the planet at a rate unprecedented since the great permian extinction. Our ability to assess all this is woefully inadequate and has political and social agendas that bias the findings one way or the other to create carbon tax profits, what a travesty that is.
      The whole point of the climate change process is that we stop doing further damage by cutting drastically back on fossil fuel usage now before the ecological system flips into another wilder system and makes it impossible to recover for thousands of years.
      So just because a scientific body declares that climate change is not mans fault does not alter the fact of climate change which is accelerating alarmingly.
      We must investigate and instigate alternative non polluting energy sources now, we should have been doing that since the 1970’s when the global warming phenomenon was first discovered. The only reason we do not have a totally clean renewable range of alternative energy production and storage now, is the stranglehold the o&g industry has on political and financial power bases across the earth and have not allowed the alternative sanity to challenge the petro dollar insanity making the profits that feed the few at the expense of the many.
      Its all about money, common sense was stolen from us 100 years ago when Nikola Tesla was marginalised and excluded from promoting clean renewable unlimited energy fo a tiny cost to the planet and the financial institutions, which was why they crushed it, they could not have made enormous profit from it. If you want to understand why the world is in such dire straights, then start there.

  4. Welcome back PhilC!

    I understand your reasoning. The difficulty I have with it is that the earths climate has changed dramatically in the past, and has had zero connection with the use of fossil fuel. The use of fossil fuel will actually be self correcting, simply because it is a finite resource. There is plenty of resource being invested in alternative energy. The problem is that in many cases it is being wasted and in others the consumer is being asked to pay excessively.
    Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey should be the mantra.

    • Hi martin, thanks, it was a much needed break, back to the grindstone!
      I appreciate your comments and such things as climate change are controversial anyway, let alone from potentially different viewpoints.
      I know that gas is a short stop to clean renewables and to wean us off coal, it is being pushed by central government anyway and its not going to be taxed (yet) by 800% increase as solar panels are now. You have got to admit, that is not acceptable nor ethical we must have a level playing field or the whole process will polarise into warfare, its actually insulting for this government to do this outrageous tax increase whilst simultaneously giving gas extraction carte blanch freedom to ignore regulations.
      There is no point in thinking gas extraction will all just go away, I know that. Yes the earth will recover from the effects of our primitive efforts to exploit the earths resources, but in the meantime we will suffer from it.
      The earth has renewable resources we all ready know about. The earth is an electromagnetic generator, that’s why we have a magnetosphere protecting us from solar radiation. Our planet revolves around an enormous electromagnetic generator of unbelievable power, our sun, it is free, it is here now, Tesla discovered that 100 years ago, yet we don’t use it now because we have an o&g monopoly? Is that not cognitive dissonance of outrageous proportions? Are we not supposed to be an intelligent species? Obviously not?
      Like you I realise that there are realities and we must make the best of what is available, and there perhaps lies the rub. Climate change is one issue that could be debated until the cows don’t come home, what really concerns me is that the dangers implicit in onshore gas extraction in particular represents, in my view at least, a further risk that we need not make in an unfettered rush. I know that practically free energy can be produced by Tesla generators, they power themselves, they have no moving parts to fail, they can be mounted on ex wind towers if necessary, no blades, no pollution, minimal technology required, 100 year old technology, simple, easy, proven and with modern technology even more efficient than 100 years ago.
      The push for gas will continue and that will I hope run its course, but to tax the hell out of solar and stifle investigation into renewables is crazy, not just Tesla generation, but more efficient wind, wave, water powered vehicular motors and the added possibilities of desalination worldwide. These can all be local and need not by massive centrally controlled over charging oligarchies. That’s not just necessary , it is positively vital for the future of our civilisation.
      Its the Hopi way of thinking seven generations into the future, living with the earth, not against it, most of what we see around us will have passed away by then, I just see no reason to risk us passing away with it.
      Have I said anything there that is so terrible or cloud cuckoo land?

      • Phil C. We understand message but it is in an ideal world which many of us are working toward. But the world is much more complex than the Green utopia. If Telsa invention of free energy was workable and practical I am sure someone would have tried to put to work today. My generation and younger are much greener than you think and we all know the bad about fossil fuel industry and so if such idea exist and workable then you can bet that some young gun tech savvy guys or girls will be all over it.

        • I dont think anyone actually wants the world to be plunged into a dismal burned out polluted poisoned future (at least i hope not), and renewable energy is not alien thinking to any intelligent person, and is not the exclusive preserve of anyone or any group of people.

          Utopia, green or otherwise is somewhat of an pariah concept in the present state of turmoil of the human race, i believe the present system is what you might call a distopia, and is headed towards a Bladerunner style burned out environment. It doesn’t mean we cannot stem the tide and work towards a better state of being.

          To consider utopia as just some unattainable ideal, never to be achieved, is limiting our mind to the point where we will no longer even be able to imagine such a state. Never settle with limitations, always go for best we can imagine by being the best we can be at any given moment, and then maybe one day, we will get there or die trying, better to die for the best of all futures than the worst. Little acorns, ripples in a pond, what ever image it takes to focus the mind and set little motions into action.

          The point was and is, that the Tesla inventions did work, and will work, far too well you might say, which is why his inventions were starved of funds by J P Morgan, and Teslas Wardenclyffe Tower on Long Island which would have generated and transmitted free wireless energy, was taken down and broken up for scrap, his plans confiscated and either destroyed or taken away somewhere they would not be found again.
          It is always interesting to see Guglielmo Marconi’s name used in the invention of wireless telegraphy, but in fact he had “borrowed” the technology from Tesla and later refused to credit Tesla with the invention.

          A pair of Russian scientists intend to resurrect Teslas tower and build one themselves, this should be a UK and US headline or we will fall so far behind, we can never get it back again and we will find we are paying the Russians for their technology to do the same.

          What is interesting about such inventions including car engines powered by water, free energy devices and innovations in lean burn technology, wind and wave, is that the inventors meet the same brick wall. There are a litany of inventions confiscated by the military and told to shut up on pain of death, many many untimely deaths, inventions bought for millions by big O&G interests and quickly squashed and never seen again, all easy to research on the internet.

          Now we see solar panels subject to massive increases in tax to prevent solar, which is getting cheaper than gas, from competing and becoming the energy of choice. Renewable energy research and development are marginalized by removing tax breaks and incentives, Yet exploration and exploitation of gas is still the main priority of government and tax breaks and legal and organizational favoritism to gas is plain to even the hardest cynics. Its easy to check all this on line.

          Todays court case will be interesting to see what any objection means in this country.

  5. Not cloud cuckoo land at all.

    In the foreseeable future, though, a tad ambitious?

    I could set a university exam question at the moment: “electricity prices up to consumers, petrol prices down-discuss.” That would keep a few brain cells occupied for a long, long while!

    When I hear “experts” who want £1 billion of tax payers money to be invested in a tidal lagoon, and then say “if it works, we want to build bigger ones” it makes me shudder. I remember the great idea of a surfers reef at Bournemouth that would add so much to the local community, and economy. It turned out useless, and a death trap. These projects should be costed properly, and the tax payer should not be treated as a casino. If they don’t work, the tax payer should not pick up the bill. I don’t think Ineos will expect to come back, cap in hand, if they can not get the finances to work.

    Fracking for gas on land in the UK requires no subsidies, and will only develop if it is competitive against other sources of gas. The only costs to the tax payer at the moment is paying for the policing and the court cases. We can debate the “risks” continuously but I suspect the public, as a whole, are more than suspicious about accepting such without investigation, and as inflation will spike this will factor in too.

    Just heard that my suite is being delivered, so must away to deal with that. (It will probably be a big benefit to you all, as it will mean I can get away from the computer and watch the Queen Nicola story unfold. Eddie Jones to blame!)

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s