Friends of the Earth and members of local residents' group, Frack Free Ryedale, have applied today to the High Court for a judicial review of North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow fracking near the North Yorks Moors National Park.
The key reasons for pursuing legal action are:
* The council’s failure to properly assess climate change. This is because the council did not consider the environmental impact of burning gas extracted to create electricity at a nearby power station in Knapton;
* The council also failed to secure long term financial protection against environmental damage.
These are the main areas that have led the environmental campaigners and residents to believe that the decision taken on 23 May was unlawful.
Despite the clear rejection of fracking by residents in North Yorkshire and by 99.2% of people who responded to the council's consultation on the plans, the council voted on 23 May to allow Barclays-owned Third Energy to frack in Kirby Misperton, Ryedale.
Simon Bowens, Yorkshire and Humber campaigner for Friends of the Earth, 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 7 councillors in May.”
David Davis, a retired Chartered Surveyor from the Ryedale village of Hovingham, 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.”
Jackie Cray, a retired vicar from Kirby Misperton, who runs the local parent and toddler group, said:
“North Yorkshire County Council has a moral and legal responsibility to ensure against harm to current and future generations. We believe that they have failed in that duty in two key areas, climate change as well as making sure that there is enough money to clean up if anything went wrong. We call on the High Court to ensure that this crucial decision for our village and the wider population is made lawfully.”
The case will now proceed to the Permission Stage where the Court will decide whether or not a full hearing should be carried out. This is likely to happen in the next few weeks.