North Yorkshire County Council approved plans for fracking near Ryedale at the end of last month, but campaigners believe the decision was made unlawfully. Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale say North Yorkshire County Council hasn’t considered the impact fracking has on climate change and have written a formal letter to the council challenging its decision. If they do not receive an acceptable reply it is thought the group will seek judicial review.
The process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into underground rock formations to release gas.
The key ground on which Friends of the Earth and members of Frack Free Ryedale intend to challenge the council’s decision is climate change, because the council failed to consider the impact of gas extracted through fracking burned at Third Energy’s power station nearby.
Jake White, legal adviser to Friends of the Earth, said: “Communities have no right of appeal against fracking decisions, only developers do. Friends of the Earth and local people can’t appeal to get the councillors’ decision over-turned. Given that we have legitimate legal concerns it is only right that the court may be called upon to decide them.
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“Because the decision appears to have been arrived at without properly considering climate change, we believe it to be 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 7 to 4 to allow fracking.
In Lancashire, clear local opposition has seen off fracking because unlike North Yorkshire, elected councillors represented the views of local people and rejected an application from Cuadrilla to frack in Roseacre and Little Plumpton. However, fracking company Cuadrilla’s appeal of this decision has been called in by Government Minister Greg Clark, who will now decide whether to overturn Lancashire Council’s rejection of fracking. That decision is due imminently.
Simon Bowens, Friends of the Earth’s Yorkshire campaigner, said: “A mere six months after the Paris Climate Change Agreement, North Yorkshire County Council decided to support a dirty, dangerous, fossil fuel industry. They side-stepped the wishes of the people they represent, the powerful testimonies presented to them over two days, and their legal duties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This was undemocratic, reckless and Friends of the Earth believes it could be unlawful as well.”