Fylde fracking under the microscope in High court battle over planning rules

The Government's new planning guidance was unlawfully published without an assessment of its environmental impact, the High Court has been told.

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 10:14 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 11:23 am
Cuadrilla's fracking equipment at Preston New road

Friends of the Earth argues the public should have been able to “contribute to and comment on” the updated guidance, which was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and

Local Government (MHCLG) in July.

At a hearing in London on Tuesday, the environmental group’s barrister Richard Kimblin QC told Mr Justice Dove that the case concerned “a matter of the utmost importance for the environment of England”.

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Friends of the Earth have previously expressed concern that the NPPF makes it “virtually impossible” for local authorities to turn down proposed fracking schemes.

He said the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) “will have environmental effects which are potentially significant” and required an assessment.

Mr Kimblin said a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) would result in “a structured and objective assessment of (the) environmental effects” of the NPPF.

But Rupert Warren QC, for MHCLG, said the NPPF did not require an assessment because the guidance did not “set the framework for future development consent of projects”.

Before the hearing, fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and her son, Talk Fracking founder Joe Corre, enacted an alternative nativity scene outside the Royal Courts of Justice.

Dame Vivienne said she was dressed as “the angel of democracy”, and was accompanied by Mr Corre as a shepherd and “three wise men”.