The high court has ruled against two campaign groups who sought to challenge the North Yorkshire county council’s decision to allow fracking to go ahead near the town of Kirby Misperton.
The council made the decision to permit energy company Third Energy to perform hydraulic fracturing tests at the Kerby Misperton site in May this year, but it was a decision met with staunch opposition from various campaigners. Two groups, Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale, launched a legal challenge on the basis that they believed that the council had failed to take into account the environmental impact of fracking and the burning of the gas it would produce. The court, however, ruled in favour of the council.
Friends of the Earth will now have to pay £10,000 in legal fees, and have said that, while they are incredibly disappointed with the decision, they would not be appealing it.
A campaigner for the group, Donna Hume, nonetheless disputed the ruling, saying: “The judge found that North Yorkshire councillors had assessed the impacts of climate change. But we know that climate change was barely mentioned at that crucial council meeting where the decision to allow fracking was taken, and more damningly, that councillors didn’t have the information about the total carbon emissions produced from the fracking project.”
One of the local residents who was a claimant in the case, retired vicar Jackie Cray, said that she (and others) would continue to campaign against Third Energy’s rights to frack in the area.
She said: “We are devastated that this decision allows the government to continue to ignore the views of local people in this case. There is no support in North Yorkshire for this risky industry.”
A spokesperson for Third Energy welcomed the ruling, and tried to reassure local residents that they would be conducting their work in the safest and most respectful way possible.
They said: “The permission places a great obligation on Third Energy to prove that we can carry out the test fracs in the same safe, discreet and environmentally sensitive way that we have conducted our gas exploration and energy generation activities over the past two decades,” said chief executive Rasik Valand.
“We are confident that we will prove to the local community that their elected representatives were right to grant this permission.”
Actual fracking work is expected to begin in 2017, following the delay caused by these legal procedures.