Lancashire

Preston New Road fracking decision to face legal challenge

Protesters
Image caption Preston New Road Action Group urged the government to reconsider its decision

The government decision to allow fracking to take place in Lancashire is to face a judicial review.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid approved plans for shale gas extraction at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton in October 2016.

The Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said that decision was "fundamentally flawed" and a "top-down abuse of power".

A date for the legal challenge has been set for 15 March in Manchester.

Image caption The Little Plumpton site at Preston New Road is situated between Blackpool and Preston

Lancashire County Council (LCC) refused permission to extract shale gas at the site in 2015 on the grounds of noise and traffic impact, but Cuadrilla appealed to the secretary of state who subsequently ruled in their favour.

The decision means for the first time UK shale rock will be fracked horizontally, which is expected to yield more gas.

Cuadrilla started construction work at the site at Preston New Road in January and it has been the scene of continued protests by anti-fracking campaigners.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Protests against fracking at the Preston New Road site have continued since construction began last month

PNRAG's Claire Stephenson said Mr Javid's decision to overturn LCC's planning decision was "not democracy in action [but] a top-down abuse of power to facilitate a powerful corporation over a community's wishes".

"We believe it is fundamentally wrong that the secretary of state, who is not local, does not represent us nor has been present during any of planning inquiries or hearings for the last three years, has intervened in favour of Cuadrilla.

"Our parish council, Fylde Borough Council and LCC rejected this application. Lancashire very loudly, said no."

The Department for Communities and Local Government declined to comment on the upcoming case.

The case will be heard at Manchester's Civil Justice Centre on 15 March.

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