Legal

Picture post: Nativity style protest at government’s fracking policy

181218 Talk Fracking protest UWOC

Nativity-style protest by Dame Vivienne Westwood and son Joe Corre outside the Royal Courts of Justice, 18 December 2018. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

Fashion designer, Dame Vivienne Westwood, and her son, Joe Corre, took part in a Christmas-themed protest against government planning policy outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning.

Their environmental group, Talk Fracking, is seeking a judicial review tomorrow (19 December 2018) of the government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The case, in the name of Lancashire campaigner, Claire Stephenson, will challenge the NPPF’s “low carbon” claims it makes in support of shale gas and fracking.

It will argue that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government unlawfully published and adopted paragraph 209a, of the revised NPPF.

This states:

“Minerals planning authorities should: a) recognise the benefits of on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, for the security of energy supplies and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy; and put in place policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction;”

The case will argue that the government failed to take into account scientific developments, which now call into question the “low carbon” claims for shale gas.

The group will say the government failed to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or a lawful public consultation on the revision of the policy. It will also say the revised NPPF goes against government policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act 2008.

Claire Stephenson said today:

“The UK government has consistently tried to undermine local democracy over fracking, giving gratuitous opportunities to the oil and gas industry. Locally-elected representatives are best placed to decide what happens within communities, particularly when it comes to the environment, not a central government dictating instructions from Whitehall.”

Head of Talk Fracking Joe Corré said:

“Like we’ve seen so much of with this Government, they have tried to bend and break their own laws. So desperate are they to make Fracking easier for their friends in the Fossil Fuel industry – they have tried to bypass Local Government objection, Scientific facts and the will of the people”.

Rowan Smith, solicitor from Leigh Day, representing Talk Fracking, said:

“This legal challenge exposes a major democratic deficit in the system. The government announced in 2015 that fracking is a force for good against climate change, without any public involvement in their policy. Three years later, and despite our client’s submissions which pointed out all the scientific developments since 2015 that seriously call in to question to government’s position, they reached the same conclusion.

“Our client argues that this is unfair. We hope that the Court will agree and conclude that the government’s new fracking policy was unlawfully produced.”

Talk Fracking’s case is due to begin at about midday tomorrow (19/12/2018) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

It will follow a related challenge brought by Friends of the Earth, which got underway this morning.

Friends of the Earth is also arguing that the government should have carried out a strategic environmental assessment of the revised NPPF. More details of the Friends of the Earth case on DrillOrDrop soon.

3 replies »

  1. Please. please. Let them succeed. Our planet and Democracy are at risk here. Should Members of Parliament not have to declare an interest. If they have one, in any discussions re. Fracking. Be interesting to see how many have.

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