LONDON (Alliance News) – Campaigners fighting a UK government decision to approve a fracking site in Lancashire have lost their High Court battle aimed at preventing Cuadrilla Resources from securing planning permission.
The Preston New Road Action Group and campaigner Gayzer Frackman had urged a judge to find that the decision to grant a planning application for the site in Fylde was not fair or lawful.
But Ian Dove, announcing his decision at the High Court in London on Wednesday, dismissed their judicial review actions.
A moratorium on fracking was lifted in 2012 after being put in place following reports of minor earthquakes near Blackpool in Lancashire in 2011 close to a site owned by Cuadrilla Resources, which has been leading the charge for the shale gas market to be opened up in the UK ever since.
In May 2016, North Yorkshire County Council approved Third Energy’s application to frack in Ryedale – the first since that moratorium was lifted in 2012.
At a hearing at Manchester Civil Justice Centre last month, the judge was told that the planning application by developer Cuadrilla was refused by Lancashire County Council in 2015, but later granted following an appeal and a planning inquiry.
The scheme was given the go-ahead in October by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
Javid took the bull by the horns by overriding Lancashire County Council’s rejection of Cuadrilla’s application to frack the Preston New Road site, giving the company the green light to drill not one but up to four wells on the site.
At that time, Cuadrilla said it was aiming to start drilling Preston New Road in the second quarter of 2017 with the aim of having two wells drilled, fracked and ready for testing in early 2018.
At the hearing in Manchester, David Wolfe, on behalf of Preston New Road Action Group, told the judge the group had been ”wrong-footed” because a planning inspector’s decision to approve the site was based on an argument made after their closing submissions at the inquiry, when the group’s advocate was not present.
He said the inspector’s decision that the site would not have a significant impact on the landscape because it was only granted permission for a temporary period was not lawful and breached the council’s development plan.
Marc Willers, on behalf of Frackman, said the site would lead to a ”considerable quantity of greenhouse gas emissions”.
He said the commercial gas produced at the fracking site would go directly to homes and industry.
Willers told the court: “There will be no assessment of these greenhouse gas emissions arising from the gas being pumped through the gas grid to homes and industry.”
The Secretary of State for Communities, local government, and developer Cuadrilla were represented at the hearing, but the court was told Lancashire County Council was not taking part.
Dove, giving his ruling on the Preston New Road Action Group case, said none of the grounds argued “have been made out in substance”.
Turning to Frackman he said one of the grounds was arguable, but added: “It is not made out in substance.”
source: Press Association
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