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Judicial review hearing in North Yorkshire fracking case

High Court to hear a judicial review on the decision to allow fracking in North Yorkshire on 22 and 23 November

Posted on 18 November 2016

A judicial review of the decision to allow fracking in North Yorkshire will be heard in the High Court in London on 22 and 23 November 2016.

Local resident group Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth, both represented by law firm Leigh Day, are challenging the decision by North Yorkshire County Council to allow fracking near the North Yorks Moors National Park.

The grounds for a judicial review of the council’s decision are that the Council has failed to:

  • Properly assess the climate change impact from the shale gas extracted by the fracking and burnt at a nearby power station in Knapton; and
  • Secure long-term financial protection against the likely environmental damage to the area.

The decision by the council’s planning committee to approve fracking of shale gas was the first such approval for fracking in England since the ban was lifted in 2012.

Leigh Day will argue that the decision to grant planning permission, taken on 23 May 2016, was unlawful.

A consultation carried out by the County Council on the fracking plans resulted in over 99% of respondents rejecting the plans.  Despite this almost total rejection of fracking by the local community, the council voted to allow Third Energy, which is owned by Barclays, to frack in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale.

Reverend Jackie Cray, who is bringing the case on behalf of Frack Free Ryedale alongside another member, said:

“This application was opposed by the Ryedale District Council, every Ryedale town council, 15 parish councils, businesses such as Flamingo Land, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Castle Howard Estate, and dozens of other groups and local businesses.

“The County Council received 4,375 objections against the application and only 36 letters in favour, yet still approved the plans. We can’t call this democracy.”

Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire and Humber campaigner, Simon Bowens, said:

“North Yorkshire County Council failed in their legal duty to fully assess the impact this fracking application would have on the climate and in protecting their local communities against long term financial risks.

“We are really fired up for our day in court because shale gas is a dirty fossil fuel. It’s why we are calling on the judge to see that justice is done for the community of Kirby Misperton and for the millions of people affected by catastrophic climate change.

“We can’t afford to allow the fracking industry to just go on putting communities across the world at risk by developing a new, dirty, fossil fuel.”

Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, said:

“We believe North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow fracking in Ryedale was clearing unlawful, owing to a failure to consider the climate change impact, despite earlier reports saying it was a relevant factor, and an error of law in concluding that a financial bond to protect long-term damage to the local environment could not be asked for, when in fact it could have been.

“These points are plainly arguable, so we fully expect that our clients’ application for judicial review will be given permission, and we hope that the court quashes the planning permission for fracking.”