Campaigners from a small village will today challenge one of the first planning applications to carry out fracking in England.
The residents of Kirby Misperton, Ryedale, North Yorkshire, are joining Friends of the Earth (FoE) in a landmark High Court bid to block a decision to allow hydraulic fracturing near their homes.
The lead campaigners, Reverend Jackie Cray and David Davis, and their supporters will be at the Royal Courts of Justice in London to argue in a two-day hearing that the decision is so flawed that it is unlawful.
Fracking company Third Energy was granted permission by North Yorkshire County Council in May 2016 to frack just a quarter of a mile from Mrs Cray’s home.
The Frack Free Ryedale campaigners, who have so far raised over £7,000 to fund their application for judicial review, are accusing the local planning authority of failing properly to assess the climate change impact of extracting shale gas by fracking.
They and FoE also say the council is failing to secure long-term financial protection in the “likely” event that fracking will cause environmental damage.
And they argue the county council’s planning committee granted permission after wrongly being told by officers the site was “devoid of bats” when in fact five species have been recorded, with more than 100 flight passes on some nights.
Mrs Cray 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 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.”
Frack Free Ryedale and FoE are both represented by Rowan Smith, a solicitor with law firm Leigh Day.
Mr Smith said: “We believe North Yorkshire County Council’s decision to allow fracking in Ryedale was clearly 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 against long-term damage to the local environment could not be asked for, when in fact it could have been.”
The case will be heard by Mrs Justice Lang.