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