Ministers misinterpreted policies designed to prevent harm to the British landscape, appeal judges were told as campaigners attempted to thwart plans for fracking in Lancashire.
The hearing revolves around a 2015 decision by Lancashire county council to refuse planning permission for a fracking scheme. The developer, Cuadrilla, appealed and its plans were ultimately given the green light by the communities and local government secretary in October last year.
Local residents wrote to the secretary of state for communities and local government, Sajid Javid, and requested that ministers reconsider, but that appeal was refused.
The Court of Appeal hearing, which finishes today, is before Lords Justice Simon, Lindblom and Henderson. The applicants also claim that the government wrongly applied the national planning policy framework, denied a fair hearing during the planning inquiry and used a “wildly different test” for assessing the impact on the quality of life of those living near the proposed fracking site.
Rowan Smith, the solicitor at the London law firm Leigh Day who is acting for the claimants, pointed to a recent ban on fracking in Ireland as illustrating “how controversial it would be to allow fracking in Lancashire’s valued countryside”.
He added: “Throw in the fact that central government is seeking to overturn the decision of a locally elected council, and it is obvious why Preston New Road Action Group is taking this fight all the way.”