A campaign group’s legal challenge to the government just before Christmas revealed a staggering admission about its plans. And the upshot is that 2019 could be the year a controversial policy effectively becomes dead in the water.
Fracking in court
Campaign group Talk Fracking is led by fashion designer Joe Corré. It was in court from 18 to 20 December 2018 applying for a judicial review of the government’s fracking policy. The case is based around the fact that Corré and Talk Fracking question the legality of certain policy decisions the government has taken.
The case is citing two particular government actions. The first is a written statement made in May 2018 by secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Greg Clark. The statement instructed local authorities not to set “restrictions or thresholds across their plan area that limit shale development without proper justification”.
Then, on 24 July 2018, the government released its revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which included updates on fracking. One particular section related to fracking (section 209a) stated that authorities should:
recognise the benefits of on-shore oil and gas development, including unconventional hydrocarbons, for the security of energy supplies and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy; and put in place policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction
As independent media site DrillOrDrop reported, the guidance (and Clark’s statement in May) effectively relaxed the rules around fracking. And it is section 209a of the NPPF that part of Talk Fracking’s case centres around.
During the court hearing, however, the government’s lawyer made a staggering admission.'
Read more: As the government packed up for Christmas, it hoped we’d miss this huge blow to its