North Yorkshire mayor launches legal action against government’s fracking policy

Malton Mayor Paul Andrews believes it seeks to impose ‘an unacceptable level of government control’ on local planning applications

By Priyanka Shrestha

A North Yorkshire mayor has launched private legal action against the UK Government’s fracking policy.

Malton Mayor Paul Andrews has applied for a judicial review to challenge Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark’s Written Ministerial Statement that set out plans for “faster and fairer” decisions on fracking, which he believes seeks to impose “an unacceptable level of government control” on local planning applications.

Mr Andrews, a member of the Ryedale District Council and Chair of Habton Parish Council, added the new policy “will significantly reduce the ability of democratically elected local councils to establish their own parameters for fracking in their area”.

The news comes after the government gave the go-ahead for Cuadrilla to frack and explore for shale gas in Lancashire and a buried government report revealing fracking leads to an increase in emissions, with the levels being “substantially higher” in local areas.

Mr Andrews said: “I am taking this legal action as a private individual as I consider it my duty to protect the interests of the communities I represent. Fracking will industrialise our beautiful countryside an destroy our rural economy and tourist businesses… This is about defending your property, your family’s health and your local democratic rights. Would you want full-scale industrial fracking only 300m of your home?

“The Statement seeks to impose an unacceptable level of government control on regional planning authorities and will significantly reduce the ability of democratically elected local councils to establish their own parameters for fracking in their area. It is also a direct challenge to the North Yorkshire Minerals Plan, which seeks to impose modest limits on fracking in an area celebrated for its world class natural environment, high quality food production and thriving rural tourist industry.”

Am online crowdfunding page to support his private legal action has been set up on the Crowdjustice website, seeking to raise £15,000 for “legal fees, expert witness testimony, court representation and other unavoidable costs” to challenge government in court.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “No one benefits from delays in planning decisions and we are committed to planning reforms to ensure quicker decision making on shale applications.

“We will make sure the strongest environmental safeguards remain in place. Any proposed permitted development right would not apply to exploration in sensitive areas, including National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”