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UK group sues government over fracking

Lancashire residents to challenge the permission granted to Cuadrilla Resources to explore for shale gas

A UK group is getting ready to fight the government’s decision to allow fracking in their area, as the legal challenge they have launched in the High Court is due to be heard later this week.

The challenge, launched by Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG), follows the government’s decision to overturn a local council decision, which initially rejected the application from explorer Cuadrilla Resources to use a site off Preston New Road, in Lancashire, to explore for shale gas. 

Cuadrilla, however, appealed this decision and won the approval of UK Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. A final decision on the nearby second site, Roseacre Wood, was delayed, with Javid claiming he is also minded to give permission if certain additional conditions are met.

At the time, PNRAG wrote to Javid requesting the government reconsider its decision, however, this was refused.

As a result, PNRAG applied for a statutory review of the decision that is now due to be heard at the High Court in Manchester. 

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"PNRAG argue that the government’s decision to overrule Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking was unlawful because the decision was fundamentally flawed as it failed to properly apply relevant planning laws and policy," Leigh Day, representing  PNRAG, said.

"We will argue on behalf of our clients that the decision to allow fracking on the site appears to have been taken in breach of the Council's development plan, as well as in breach of the correct planning law tests, and would therefore be unsafe and unsustainable for the local area."

Earlier this year, Cuadrilla started construction work at the Preston New Road site, work that immediately sparked local protests.

Cuadrilla previously said it plans to initially drill a pilot well to a depth of about 3500 metres to help understand more about the area’s geology and where best to drill horizontal wells.

The company said hydraulic fracturing of the first horizontal well could begin in the third quarter of 2017. By the fourth quarter, it plans to begin flow testing shale gas.

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