Talk Fracking Challenges Tory Government Over Fracking Policy

Talk Fracking, led by fashion designer and activist, Joe Corré, will this week take to the Royal Courts of Justice in a challenge over the legality of the Conservative government’s policy, which claims that fracking is a positive contributor to a low-carbon economy.

Accompanied by Corré’s activist and fashion designer mother, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Talk Fracking’s Claire Stephenson, the group will be part of a three-day hearing at the Administrative Court from Tuesday 18th December until Thursday 20th December 2018.

Friends of the Earth are also bringing a separate action to Talk Fracking about one of the same issues, which will be heard in front of the same judge.

Both parties are challenging the adoption of Paragraph 209a of the revised National Planning Framework by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

They argue that by ignoring objections during the consultation, the UK government is ‘making fracking easier than putting up a garden shed’. By doing so, the government has:

  • Unlawfully failed to consider material considerations – namely scientific and technical developments – since the Written Ministerial Statement was made in 2015.
  • Unlawfully failed to give any effect to the Government’s long stated policy in relation to existing domestic obligations to reduce greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions under the Climate Change Act 2008.
  • Unlawfully failed to carry out any Strategic Environmental Assessment (“SEA”) – in breach of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004/1633.
  • Unlawfully failed to carry out a fair consultation.

Dame Vivienne Westwood said:

“Democracy isn’t working. 80% of British people don’t want fracking. Our government is overriding public opinion and local government, poisoning God’s world.”

Head of Talk Fracking Joe Corré said:

“Like we’ve seen so much of with this government, they have tried to bend and break their own laws. So desperate are they to make fracking easier for their friends in the fossil fuel industry – they have have tried to bypass local government objection, scientific facts and the will of the people. Fracking is totally and utterly out of step with the times. We are now in a major climate emergency. We must put an end to this total and utter madness and keep it in the ground.”

Claire Stephenson, from Talk Fracking said:

“The UK government has consistently tried to undermine local democracy over fracking, giving gratuitous opportunities to the oil and gas industry. Locally elected representatives are best placed to decide what happens within communities, particularly when it comes to the environment, not a central government dictating instructions from Whitehall.”

Rowan Smith, solicitor from Leigh Day representing Talk Fracking, said:

“This legal challenge exposes a major democratic deficit in the system. The government announced in 2015 that fracking is a force for good against climate change, without any public involvement in their policy. Three years later, and despite our client’s submissions which pointed out all the scientific developments since 2015 that seriously call in to question to government’s position, they reached the same conclusion. Our client argues that this is unfair. We hope that the Court will agree and conclude that the government’s new fracking policy was unlawfully produced.”

The results are expected in early 2019.