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Talk Fracking Wins Judicial Review Against The Government Over Legality Of Planning Policy


Meanwhile INEOS Court Of Appeal Case Completes Last Day Of Evidence

Talk Fracking, represented by Leigh Day, was victorious today in it’s challenge against the Government adopting out-of-date and flawed scientific evidence in it’s planning policy in relation to fracking.

Judge Mr. Justice Dove, announced that Talk Fracking had succeeded in its claim against the Government in The Planning Court today (Wed 6th March 2019) at 9:30am after allowing a judicial review in the case over the climate impacts of shale gas developments. This was heard on the 19th and 20th December 2018.

Talk Fracking argued that the government acted unlawfully by adopting Paragraph 209a of the 2015 Written Ministerial Statement into a revised version of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in July 2018 – without first reviewing new scientific data in a transparent manner.

Talk Fracking argued that new evidence published since 2015 completely debunks the Government’s false claim that fracking has a lower carbon footprint than imported liquid natural gas. Instead, scientific evidence shows that fracking exacerbates climate change.

The Mobbs Report, commissioned by Talk Fracking, exposed many of the findings of the government’s keystone MacKay Stone report. None of the evidence outlined in The Mobbs Report was considered before publishing the revised version of the NPPF in July 2018.

Mr Justice Dove said that the Secretary of State had not considered “obviously material considerations relevant to the decision which he had led the public to believe he was taking”, that is, the relevant scientific evidence.

He said further: “The consultation on the draft revised Framework 204a was so flawed in its design and processes as to be unlawful”.

He said it breached the Sedley principles which set out the requirements for a lawful consultation exercise.

Judge Dove said evidence provided by Talk Fracking, including The Mobbs Report, was “capable of having a direct bearing upon a key element of the evidence base for the proposed policy and its relationship to climate change effects”.

Joe Corré, from Talk Fracking says:

“It’s fantastic news to be victorious this morning. I’m very pleased that the Court has confirmed that the Government has behaved irresponsibly and recklessly with our democratic rulebook. Their consultation was a farce. Their Written Ministerial Statement claim that fracking is a bridge to low carbon economy is not based on scientific evidence. This has been exposed by us taking them to Court. It is not also clear, with guidance from the Court, that climate change objections to fracking must be considered at a local planning level”.

Claire Stephenson, who brought the claim on behalf of Talk Fracking said:

“The acknowledgement from the Judge, that climate change is a valid concern for campaigners and councils facing fracking planning applications, is a big win.”

Rowan Smith, solicitor from Leigh Day says:

“What is clear from this judgement is that the government has to keep climate change science under review when formulating fracking policies in an open and transparent way”.

“It is clear that the Government has to hold a full review of its policy support for fracking, after a meaningful consultation and properly considering the scientific developments”.

The Judge said he will allow Talk Fracking and the government time to consider the implications of the ruling and to make further submissions.

Meanwhile, in the Court of Appeal, three Judges have just finished hearing a case in which Joe Corré from Talk Fracking is challenging a 2017 ruling in which fracking company INEOS, has sought to injunct the right to protest against their fracking activities.

A Judgement in this case is expected to be handed down in May 2019.



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