Anti-fracking campaigners lose latest legal battle

Fracking protesters gather outside Lancashire County Council.
Fracking protesters gather outside Lancashire County Council.

Campaigners fighting to overturn a Government decision to approve a fracking site in Lancashire have lost the latest round of their legal battle.

Three Court of Appeal judges announced their decision in London on Friday to reject challenges brought by the Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) and environmental campaigner Gayzer Frackman, from Blackpool.

Their ruling followed a defeat for protesters at the High Court last year when they failed to persuade a judge in Manchester that the decision to grant a planning application for the site in Fylde was not fair or lawful.

UK energy company Cuadrilla’s planning application was refused by Lancashire County Council in 2015 but later granted following an appeal and a planning inquiry.

The scheme was later given the go-ahead by Cabinet minister Sajid Javid.

During an appeal hearing in August, David Wolfe QC, for the action group, told Lord Justice Simon, Lord Justice Lindblom and Lord Justice Henderson that “the Secretary of State, through his inspector, misunderstood key local and national planning policies”.

The judges were urged to “set aside” the ruling of Mr Justice Dove in the High Court and to “quash the Secretary of State’s decision”.

Argument was made on behalf of both the Communities Secretary and Cuadrilla that the challenges by PNRAG and Mr Frackman should be dismissed.

The planning permissions at the centre of the appeal are for exploratory and associated monitoring works in respect of exploration for shale gas.