Anti-fracking campaigner takes challenge to Court of Appeal seeking to overturn Government decision to approve fracking in Lancashire

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers is representing environmental campaigner, Gayzer Frackman from Blackpool. Mr Frackman takes his legal challenge to the Court of Appeal on Wednesday 30 August 2017, seeking to overturn the Government’s decision to approve fracking at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton, Lancashire.

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The Court of Appeal will hear arguments over two days from lawyers representing Mr Frackman, Preston New Road residents, Cuadrilla and the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid. The four ‘exploratory’ wells by Cuadrilla at the site represent the biggest fracking operation to be given the go-ahead in the UK to date. Round-the-clock protests have hampered Cuadrilla’s work.

Mr Frackman said:

“This legal challenge tests the Government's ‘drill first, ask questions later’ approach to fracking. The Government must be held to account for failing to protect UK citizens from the health impacts of fracking and the untold damage it will cause to our environment, our climate, and those living near the site in Lancashire.” 

Dr Paul Stookes, Solicitor-Advocate at Richard Buxton Solicitors representing Mr Frackman added:

“The consequences of the government’s decision to permit fracking are profound. We only have one planet and climate change is the most serious threat mankind has ever faced. If we are to have any hope of addressing climate change, the UK Government must take its responsibilities seriously and instead look for genuine renewable energy alternatives to power the country.”

“If environmental impact assessments are to have any integrity in the UK, then the full consequences of extracting and burning large volumes of fossil fuel must be considered at the earliest possible stage. And, if those consequences have not been assessed then a precautionary approach says that permission for shale gas fracking must be refused.”

Estelle Dehon, environmental law barrister at Cornerstone Barristers and representing Mr Frackman, explains the legal challenge:

This action is being taken on the basis that Cuadrilla and the Government did not fully assess the impact of greenhouse gas emissions that will be generated by the fracking operation over the next six years, contrary to the environmental impact assessment regulations. The appeal also questions whether it was safe for the Government to grant permission in the absence of a robust regulatory system, despite uncontroverted evidence of the health impacts of fracking. We will also be making the case that Cuadrilla’s so-called exploratory fracking is in fact full scale shale gas production in disguise.”

If the Court of Appeal challenge is successful the Government will have to reconsider its decision to approve fracking at the Preston New Road site and may be forced to strengthen its regulatory regime before granting permission for fracking elsewhere in the country.

Gayzer Frackman is represented by environmental law specialists, Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers, Estelle Dehon of Cornerstone Barristers, and Dr Paul Stookes of Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law Solicitors. Mr Frackman has been greatly assisted by the Environmental Law Foundation who helped him find a legal team to work on the case.

This case has been reported so far on ITV, the Blackpool Gazette and Drill or Drop.

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