No hydraulic fracturing will take place in Britain until at least 2017 following a High Court challenge from green groups Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale. They have sought a judicial review of North Yorkshire County Council’s decision, claiming councillors failed to assess the impact of the project on climate change and the financial safeguards against environmental damage.
In May, North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) awarded consent to Third Energy to frack its existing KM8 well near the village of Kirby Misperton. The company plans to fracture the well in five different places to gauge its productivity, as part of an eight week programme of testing. Third Energy had been expected to commenced work on an exploratory well in North Yorkshire by the end 2016 but the company has confirmed that it will be unable to press ahead until after the hearing which is scheduled for 22nd and 23rd November 2016.
The landmark decision was the first time an application for fracking was approved by a council since a ban was lifted in 2012. Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Ryedale requested a judicial review of the decision in August and the High Court set the dates for a ‘rolled up’ hearing, during which the Court will consider whether or not to grant permission for the case to be heard and, if this is granted, move immediately to the full hearing.t
The delay is the latest in a long string of setbacks for Government’s efforts to fast track fracking in the UK. No wells have been fracked since 2011 Cuadrilla caused earth tremors attempting to frack in Lancashire. Cuadrilla applied to resume fracking at two sites in 2014 but saw its plans rejected by Lancashire council last summer. More than a year on, it is still waiting on the outcome of its appeal against the rejection, which was heard at a public inquiry earlier this year. The Communities’ Secretary is considering a decision on this since receiving a planning inspector’s report on 4th July 2016 and must do so by 6th October 2016.