Rural campaigners challenge fracking approval at High Court

Rural campaigners will challenge a decision at the High Court to allow an energy company to carry out fracking for shale gas in North Yorkshire.

A judicial review tabled by residents from Ryedale and Friends of the Earth will challenge a county council’s planning decision to approve fracking at a site near their homes in Kirby Misperton.

Fracking company Third Energy was granted permission by North Yorkshire County Council in May 2016 to frack half a mile from residents’ homes, near North York Moors National Park.

See also: Yorkshire decision fuels farmer fracking fears

More than 4,000 letters of objection were lodged and 15 parish councils, including Ryedale Parish Council, opposed the plans.

The case will be heard at the High Court in London on Tuesday and Wednesday (22-23 November), when a judge will decide whether North Yorkshire County Council properly took into account the full effect on climate change.

The claim also concerns the council’s financial protection for local residents against the long-term environmental damage of fracking.

Farmers and landowners fear fracking in the area could cause water pollution, damage wildlife and the reputation of local food.

Water pollution fears

Beef and arable farmer Sarah Houlston farms at 121ha Northfields Farm, in Great Barugh, one mile from the proposed site.

She told Farmers Weekly: “My main concern is the contamination risk fracking poses to the water supply in the area. It was never about one well – ultimately this is about thousands of wells.

“Methane produced by fracking is a much more potent gas than carbon dioxide.

“We are also concerned about the industrialisation of the countryside and the thousands of HGV movements on country roads.”

Sarah Houlston © Ian Hinchliffe/REX/Shutterstock

Sarah Houlston © Ian Hinchliffe/REX/Shutterstock

Mrs Houlston accused government of not listening to local people’s views against fracking. “It seems that the voices of local people are not being heard and democracy is being ignored.”

‘Huge responsibility’

However, Rasik Valland, chief executive of Third Energy, said the approval meant his company had a “huge responsibility”.

He added: “We will have to deliver on our commitment, made to the committee and to the people of Ryedale, to undertake this operation safely and without affecting the local environment.”

Meanwhile, residents in Lancashire have issued formal legal proceedings against the government’s decision to allow fracking at Roseacre Wood by shale gas company Cuadrilla.

The legal challenge has been issued by the Preston New Road Action Group, who are represented by law firm Leigh Day. The hearing is expected to take place at the High Court early next year.

See more