The High Court in Manchester will this week (15th to 17th March 2017) hear a case brought by a local residents’ group against a decision to grant permission for fracking in Fylde, Lancashire.

The Preston new Road Action Group (PNRAG) is represented by law firm Leigh Day and is challenging the Government’s decision to allow fracking at the site in Fylde.

On 29 June 2015, Lancashire County Council refused planning permission to Cuadrilla Bowland Limited to use a site off Preston New Road for fracking. Cuadrilla appealed this decision, which, following a public inquiry, was recommended for approval by an Inspector and then confirmed by the Secretary of State on 6 October 2016.

The residents’ group wrote to Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, in October 2016 requesting the Government reconsider its decision, however, this was refused. As a result, PNRAG’s lawyers applied for a statutory review of the decision under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

This review will be heard in the planning court division of the High Court this week, with the benefit of PNRAG having secured a protective costs order.

PNRAG argue that the Government’s decision to overrule Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking was unlawful because the decision was fundamentally flawed as it failed to properly apply relevant planning laws and policy.

PNRAG is made up of a group of Fylde residents who came together in opposition to Cuadrilla’s plans to ‘frack’ for shale gas in the area. The group was set up initially to find out more about the shale gas industry and its potential impact on the local community and then to coordinate local opposition to the plans.

A spokesperson from Preston New Road Action Group said: “PNRAG this week take their fracking legal challenge to the High Court in Manchester.

“We have consistently fought through legal process to have the voice of local residents heard. The voice of our community was loud and strong; it said ‘no’ to fracking.

“Local democracy which said ‘no’ was overturned by the Secretary of State in Westminster. He has not visited or engaged with the communities that will be affected to understand the real impacts of his decision. Is that just or democratic?

“Democracy died in Lancashire after last October’s decision. We hope it can be resurrected by the High Court in Manchester finding this decision to allow fracking unlawful and one which must be revoked immediately.”

Rowan Smith, of law firm Leigh Day, said: “Our clients believe that the government has made significant legal errors in overturning the Council’s refusal of planning permission to allow fracking on the site.

“Our clients are local residents, some of whom live within 500 metres of the site, who are genuinely concerned about the negative impact that fracking could have on their lives, the lives of other residents and on the local environment.

“We will argue on behalf of our clients that the decision to allow fracking on the site appears to have been taken in breach of the Council's development plan, as well as in breach of the correct planning law tests, and would therefore be unsafe and unsustainable for the local area.”

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