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Thursday 31st
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Javid ‘got planning permissions wrong’ when he overruled local council

A LAST-DITCH bid to stop fracking in Lancashire started yesterday, with campaigners taking their case to the Court of Appeal for a two-day hearing.

Environmental activists, including those of Preston New Road Action Group and Frack Free Lancashire, argue that Communities Secretary Sajid Javid did not understand planning policies when he overruled Lancashire County Council’s much-applauded 2015 decision to turn down fracking firm Cuadrilla’s request for permission to start drilling near Blackpool.

A judicial review at Manchester Court of Appeal earlier this year backed Mr Javid’s decision.

Cuadrilla is now preparing to start fracking — which involves shattering underground layers of shale rock by pumping in a toxic mixture of chemicals, sand and water to release the gas — at the site at Preston New Road.

The Court of Appeal hearing, before Lord Justices Simon, Lindblom and Henderson, continues today. The challenge was mounted by the Preston New Road Action Group and environmental campaigner Gayzer Frackman.

Representing the action group, David Wolfe QC said: “The Secretary of State, through his inspector, misunderstood key local and national planning policies.”

The group’s solicitors said Mr Javid and the inspector made “errors of law” by “misinterpreting” a policy intended to protect the landscape, “wrongly applying” a national planning policy framework, denying a fair hearing during the planning inquiry, and “using a wildly different test for assessing the impact on the quality of life of those living nearby.”

An action group spokeswoman said: “We trust that the Secretary of State’s decision to allow fracking at Preston New Road will be found unsound and Lancashire County Council’s original decision will be reinstated.

“Even before any fracking has commenced, the local community has been subjected to disruption.

“They have suffered stress due to the process and, since work commenced on the site, their day-to-day lives have been disrupted by convoys of heavy-goods vehicles, a massive police presence and many road closures.”

Mr Frackman, from Blackpool, said: “The government must be held to account for failing to protect citizens from health impacts of fracking and untold damage it will cause to our environment, climate, and those living near the site in Lancashire.”