Legal aid call to fight Kirby Misperton fracking decision

Protesters outside Northallerton County Hall on the day the Third Energy fracking application was approved by North Yorkshire County Council.
Protesters outside Northallerton County Hall on the day the Third Energy fracking application was approved by North Yorkshire County Council.
Have your say

A motion will be presented to Ryedale District Council urging the authority to consider helping to pay for a judicial review to try and halt the controversial decision to allow fracking in the district.

It comes almost a month after North Yorkshire County Council approved a planning application from Third Energy for a test site at Kirby Misperton, and is signed by two district councillors.

Ryedale District Council’s Ed Jowitt and Paul Andrews will table the motion at a full meeting of the local authority on July 7.

An objector to the county council’s decision - Friends of the Earth - has indicated that they are considering a judicial review against the outcome.

Ryedale District Council had formally objected to the application during the county council’s consultation process, and Mr Jowett and Mr Andrews’ motion calls on the authority to contact the objector’s legal advisers and consider whether or not to support their case.

The motion proposes that “subject to being satisfied that there is a prima facie case for judicial review”, the district council contributes at least £20,000 towards the cost of the review application, or “to institute legal proceedings for judicial review in the Council’s name”.

In response, the county council said in a statement: “North Yorkshire County Council’s planning committee gave proper regard to all material planning considerations before approving the application by Third Energy to undertake fracking for shale gas in the vicinity of Kirby Misperton.

“The County Council’s legal team is considering the pre-action letter from Friends of the Earth.”

The county council approved the Kirby Misperton plans at the end of a two-day hearing at Northallerton County Hall on May 23.

During the planning committee hearing, more than 80 speakers voiced their concerns over the possible impact of fracking on water, farming, tourism and the wider environment.

Third Energy, however, insisted that the objections were based on misunderstandings and fearmongering, and highlighted its record of mining gas in the area through conventional means.

More than 4,000 objections to the plans had been submitted to the county council and campaigners gathered outside the hearing where they greeted the decision with boos and shouts of defiance.

In a statement released after the verdict was reached, members of the county council’s planning committee said they were satisfied the effects of the development on the natural environment would be mitigated through planning conditions.

They added that the council is required to work within national policy guidelines which outline that indigenous oil and gas remain key to energy security, and that the decision would not have any bearing on future fracking applications.

Third Energy chief executive Rasik Valand spoke of his relief after two years waiting, saying that he was confident the firm’s plans did not pose a threat to safety.

Fracking was suspended in Lancashire in 2011 over concerns at earth tremors. Two applications to frack in the county again last year were rejected.

The rejections were a blow to the Government’s efforts to kickstart a UK fracking industry, which it claims would create jobs, help energy security and generate valuable tax revenues.

Opponents had hoped a further rejection in North Yorkshire would persuade the energy industry and government that public opinion could not be won over.