Campaigners to crowd fund legal challenge after Javid allows fracking

Campaigners are seeking to crowd fund a legal challenge to the decision by the Communities Secretary to overturn Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking in the Fylde area.

Frack Free Fylde has so far raised more than £3,400 via the Crowd Justice website, with donations from 158 people. The group is hoping to raise £10,000.

In a much-anticipated decision Sajid Javid yesterday allowed three appeals by Cuadrilla in line with recommendations from a planning inspector.

The permissions in the minister’s decision letter cover construction and operation of a site for drilling up to four exploratory wells, hydraulic fracturing of the wells, testing for hydrocarbons, abandonment of the wells and restoration at Plumpton Hall Farm, near Preston, monitoring works in a 4km radius of the site and the construction, operation and restoration of two seismic monitoring arrays comprising of 80 buried seismic monitoring stations and 8 surface seismic monitoring stations.

The inspector had recommended rejection of Cuadrilla’s fourth appeal over a fracking project for the nearby Roseacre Wood site.

But Javid said he was minded to approve this too once Cuadrilla had been given more time to provide further evidence on highway safety.

Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire’s cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “A local council, made up of councillors democratically elected by local people, and charged with serving their interests, is exactly the right body to make decisions on local matters.

“It is clear that the government supports the development of a shale gas industry, but I would ask them to do more to address the concerns of local communities and the councillors who represent them by supporting the best environmental controls.

“The Secretary of State's decision to allow more time to consider issues related to highway safety around the Roseacre site reflects the committee's concerns on this issue. We will now await information from the applicant on the details required to fulfil the planning conditions set out for the Preston New Road site.”

Frack Free Fylde’s legal team – hired via the Environmental Law Foundation – comprises Paul Stookes of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law Solicitors and Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers.

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