A decision has been reached in the appeal to prevent Third Energy from further exploring its existing well at Kirby Misperton using hydraulic fracturing methods. This latest success for Third Energy came as the High Court rejected a judicial review claim, instigated by Frack Free Ryedale (a community action group) and Friends of the Earth (a climate change charity).

Following the decision of North Yorkshire Council to grant Third Energy’s planning application, in accordance with the planning officer’s recommendation, Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth brought the joint application. The basis of their claim was that the Council, in its deliberations, had unlawfully failed to take into account assessment of the climate change impacts arising from the burning of gas produced at Kirby Misperton in the nearby Knapton power station (which is the intended off-taker for the gas) during the production phase of the project.

The court rejected the claim for judicial review, stating that the scoping requirements for the environmental assessment did not require the Council to consider omissions from Knapton. The submissions of Natural England and written submissions made by both Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth during the original application process did not consider or mention that emissions from Knapton should be assessed. It concluded that as Knapton was on another site, there was no proposed increase in its capacity and that it was subject to its own environmental permits and planning permission, consideration of it in the Kirby Misperton application and decision was unnecessary. A further financial ground was also raised in the claim and rejected.

Following the decision, Third Energy have stated that they are well on the way to satisfying the conditions attached to the planning permission by North Yorkshire Council and hope to begin the initial test fracturing in the first half of next year. With this progress in Yorkshire and Cuadrilla’s imminent commencement of operations in Lancashire (subject to a planned residents’ appeal of the decision by the Secretary of State for Local Authorities and Government to approve Cuadrilla’s permission), the unconventional hydrocarbons industry in England seems to be preparing for a game changing 2017.