Campaigners seek judicial review over council's fracking decision


Anti-fracking campaigners have applied for judicial review of a council's decision to allow the controversial gas extraction technique beneath North Yorkshire.

Councillors on North Yorkshire County Council's planning committee voted seven to four in May to give the green light to the first fracking operation in the UK for five years on a site just outside the village of Kirby Misperton, near Pickering.

The controversial decision was condemned as a travesty by those opposed to the move, but a "victory for pragmatism" by those in favour.

Now Friends of the Earth (FoE) and members of local residents' group Frack Free Ryedale have applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the councillor's decision.

FoE said it would argue the decision was unlawful because the councillors did not properly assess climate change as they did not consider the environmental impact of burning gas extracted to create electricity at a nearby power station.

It said it would also argue that the council failed to secure long-term financial protection against environmental damage.

FoE Yorkshire and Humber campaigner Simon Bowens said: "Shale gas is a dirty fossil fuel and it is the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council to require a full assessment of the impact this fracking application would have on the climate.

"They failed to do that, and this is why we believe the courts need to consider the way that this decision was arrived at by seven councillors in May."

Retired chartered surveyor David Davis, from Frack Free Ryedale, said: "Concerned local residents have spent many hours considering the application, submitting evidence and raising their concerns in front of the planning committee.

"Despite all this, the county council have let the people of North Yorkshire down by failing to address these crucial factors."

"Our only recourse is to challenge this decision in the courts and hope that justice will be served."

The decision in May permitted the firm Third Energy to frack for shale gas using an existing two-mile deep well - called KM8 - drilled in 2013.

The fracking application is the first to be approved in the UK since 2011, when tests on the Fylde coast, in Lancashire, were found to have been the probable cause of minor earthquakes in the area.

Since then, two high-profile applications to frack in Lancashire have been rejected by councillors and are now the subject of appeals.