York & North Yorkshire

Drax: ClientEarth loses power station development battle

Drax power station Image copyright PA Media
Image caption ClientEarth mounted a legal challenge against the development at Drax power station

An environmental charity has lost a High Court challenge against a government decision to approve a new gas-fired power plant.

ClientEarth had argued the decision did not take enough account of environmental targets at the Drax power station near Selby, North Yorkshire.

But the judge Mr Justice Holgate, said the targets were outweighed by other "public interest issues" involved.

The charity is now considering an appeal against the decision.

The court heard how ClientEarth opposed the construction of two new gas generation units and two battery storage units on environmental grounds.

However, Mr Justice Holgate said there were "other public interest issues which operate in favour of such development, such as its contribution to security and diversity of energy supply and the provision of support for the transition to a low carbon economy".

In his ruling, he said: "Policy-making in this area involves the striking of a balance in which these and a great many other issues are assessed and weighed.

"This is carried on at a high strategic level and involves political judgment as to what is in the public interest."

'Very dissatisfied'

ClientEarth brought legal action against the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) after the scheme was given the go-ahead in October last year.

At a hearing last month, lawyers for the charity argued that the project failed to fully consider the 2050 net zero emissions target.

The charity also argued that the Planning Act 2008 had been "misinterpreted and misapplied".

Lawyers for the government department argued that ClientEarth's challenge was flawed said there was a "rational and reasoned basis for granting consent for the Drax power project".

ClientEarth lawyer Sam Hunter Jones said the charity were "very dissatisfied" by the judgement.

A Drax spokesperson said: "The development of new high efficiency gas power at Drax would support the UK's decarbonising energy system."

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