Campaigning group Talk Fracking challenging government policy on fracking over climate change concerns

Talk Fracking has brought a judicial review challenge of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) on the grounds that the government failed to take into account scientific developments which call into question the “low carbon” claims it has put forward in support of fracking. The challenge is currently being heard alongside a challenge brought by Friends of the Earth in the High Court.

Talk Fracking, a campaigning group founded by Dame Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corre, is challenging the legality of the publication and adoption of Paragraph 209a of the revised NPPF by the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government.

As well as failing to take into account scientific developments, the group argue in their legal case that the decision to adopt Paragraph 209a is also unlawful because the government failed to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or a lawful public consultation on the revision of the policy. The group also argues that changing the NFFP goes against the government’s policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate Change Act 2008.

A number of previous legal challenges have sought to overturn individual planning decisions relating to fracking sites. But this case challenges the government’s national policy on fracking. Talk Fracking argues that the recent revision of this policy instructs local councils that fracking is beneficial in tackling climate change, contrary to scientific evidence. A Written Ministerial Statement in 2015 made similar claims, and it is argued that the incorporation of that statement into national planning policy has ignored key factors that have emerged since, such as a greater scientific recognition of the climate change impact of methane emissions released as a result of fracking.

David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers, Peter Lockley of 11KBW and Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers act for Talk Fracking with Leigh Day.

Leigh Day press release available here.

Media reports here and here.