The next stage in a legal battle over ministerial approval of fracking in Lancashire reaches the Court of Appeal in London in August.
The court has confirmed that separate challenges brought by campaigners, the Preston New Road Action Group and Gayzer Frackman, will be heard over two days at the Royal Courts of Justice, starting on 30 August.
Both cases argue that the decision to grant planning permission for the Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site was unlawful. The approval, by the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, in October 2016 overturned the refusal by Lancashire County Council but followed the recommendation of an inspector at a public inquiry.
In April this year, the High Court judge, Sir Ian Dove, dismissed both challenges after a two-day hearing in Manchester.
But both legal teams put their case to the Court of Appeal and we granted permission for a hearing.
Preston New Road Action Group has argued that Mr Javid incorrectly interpreted national and local planning policy. Mr Frackman argued that the approval was unlawful because Cuadrilla’s environmental statement was defective and that the regulatory regime could not control impacts. More details
Preston New Road Action Group said today:
“We hope and pray that justice will be delivered and that Sajid Javid’s decision will be found unlawful and quashed.
“Our community, Westby Parish Council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council all refused this dangerous application, and for many good reasons.
“Local democracy was dismantled and overturned by central government, who seemingly wish to micro-manage decisions that are not theirs to make. We believe that this was unlawful and that Cuadrilla’s site development should be stopped.
“This case is no longer simply about fracking: it is about true justice and genuine democracy being delivered at local level.
“For this reason, we will continue with our strategy to challenge this decision on every level. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has supported us, in so many ways, to reach this point.”
Lawyers for the Department of Communities and Local Government and Cuadrilla will defend the challenge. A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said today:
“Cuadrilla will actively defend the appeals alongside the Government and remains confident that the planning consent will not be overturned.
“In the meantime Cuadrilla will be continuing with its operational work at the site as it has been granted all the necessary consents and permits to do so. This will include the drilling of two horizontal exploration wells although the hydraulic fracturing of those wells will not commence before the ruling of the Court of Appeal.”