York & North Yorkshire

Ryedale anti-fracking campaigners take case to High Court

Protesters outside High Court
Image caption Campaigners protested outside the High Court before the hearing

Anti-fracking activists are at the High Court in a bid for a ruling that a council acted unlawfully in approving test drilling.

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) approved the fracking site at Kirby Misperton near Ryedale in May.

Fracking company Third Energy said the process, which involves drilling shale rock and injecting high-pressure water in order to release gas, is safe.

The judge will be asked to grant a judicial review of the decision.

Mrs Justice Lang told the court at the beginning of the hearing that she would make a judgement after hearing all the arguments.

If the campaigners' case is backed, the review is likely to be held this week - but if Mrs Justice Lang disagrees Third Energy can go ahead with its plans.

The appeal was brought by Friends of the Earth and campaign group Frack Free Ryedale.

When the council approved the bid to undertake the tests it was the first fracking operation to be approved in England since a ban was lifted in 2012.

Campaigners are protesting outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, holding postcards of Yorkshire scenes they claim will be devastated by fracking operations if they are approved.

Jackie Cray, a retired vicar from Kirby Misperton, said: "I am very confident we are going to win.

"We do not want fracking in North Yorkshire, in Kirby Misperton or anywhere and we will go on opposing it."

What is fracking?

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Media captionThe BBC's David Shukman explains how fracking works

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth and directing a high-pressure water mixture at rock to release gas inside.

Opponents say the process can cause water contamination, earthquakes and noise and traffic pollution.

Protesters have also raised concerns that passing the application would open the floodgates to hundreds of other drilling sites.

Planners voted 7-4 in favour of Third Energy's application in May, despite more than 4,300 objections and only 36 representations of support.

The county council said in a statement it had given "proper regard to all material planning considerations before approving the application".

Frack Free Ryedale said the judicial review is based on two objections:

  • That NYCC did not consider the impact of fracking on climate change
  • That the council did not put provision in planning conditions to finance future remedial works that might be needed because of the impact of the process
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Media captionThe BBC's John Moylan explains what the fracking vote means for Kirby Misperton - in 20 seconds
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Media captionThe moment the application was granted, as seen from both inside and outside the council building. Vote footage North Yorkshire County Council

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