Campaigners win right to appeal against Lancashire fracking go-ahead

ANTI-FRACKING campaigners have won the right to appeal against the decision to allow fracking in parts of Lancashire.

In October, local government secretary Sajid Javid overruled Lancashire County Council to approve an application from Cuadrilla for exploratory drilling on agricultural land at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said there had been "legal errors" in the approval.

In April, the planning court rejected the group's challenge to Javid's decision.

However, the Court of Appeal granted permission for the appeal to go ahead.  

The PNRAG's appeal is based on four grounds. Namely, that the Government: misinterpreted a policy protecting against harm to the landscape; wrongly applying the 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.

The group said it hopes the appeal hearing will take place next month so it can be concluded before Cuadrilla starts drilling in July, with fracking due to begin in the autumn.  

Rowan Smith of law firm Leigh Day, which represented PNRAG, said: "This news is extremely positive and we are very pleased that the Court of Appeal agrees with our assessment that our arguments have sufficient prospects of success to warrant an appeal hearing.

"Encouragingly, Lord Justice Jackson also concurred that our point about the National Planning Policy Framework is indeed a matter of general public importance, given the correct application of the rules will have far-reaching effects for many other planning law cases.

"We are also relieved that PNRAG has costs protection in the appeal, as it did in the planning court."

Patricia Davies of the PNRAG said: "We have put forward credible evidence through our legal team indicating why we believe that decision is unlawful and should be overturned.

"It is important to remember that local democracy has been dismantled and denied in Lancashire to allow Cuadrilla and this fossil fuel industry to press ahead."

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said: "Cuadrilla will actively defend the appeals and is confident that the planning consents will not be overturned."