The Court of Appeal has granted Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) permission to appeal the planning court’s earlier judgment to allow fracking in rural Lancashire.
In April, the planning court dismissed PNRAG’s challenge against the Secretary of State’s decision to overturn Lancashire County Council’s rejection of an application by Cuadrilla to drill for and extract shale gas through hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking). However, Lord Justice Jackson has given the greenlight for PNRAG to appeal.
The appeal is based on four grounds, namely that the Secretary of State and the Inspector made errors of law by: (1) misinterpreting a policy protecting against harm to the landscape; (2) wrongly applying the National Planning Policy Framework; (3) denying a fair hearing during the planning inquiry; and (4) using a wildly different test for assessing the impact on the quality of life of those living nearby.
PNRAG hopes that the appeal hearing will take place next month, so that the appeal can be concluded before Cuadrilla starts drilling on the site in July, with fracking due to begin in the autumn.
Rowan Smith, the solicitor at Leigh Day dealing with the case, 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. We will be pushing for a hearing next month.”
Patricia Davies from the PNRAG commented:
"Preston New Rd Action Group are delighted that the Courts have agreed there is validity in our arguments and they have upheld therefore our right of Appeal against the decision to allow fracking at Preston New Road Site.
"We have put forward credible evidence through our legal team indicating why we believe that decision is unlawful and should be overturned.”