LONDON – The United Kingdom’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy faced on Tuesday a judicial review brought to the High Court by environmental groups and celebrity campaigners to challenge the government’s new fracking rules.
Fracking is a process that uses high-pressure liquid or gas to access underground energy wells in order to extract shale gas or oil, but can result in extensive environmental damage.
Joe Corre leader of Friends of the Earth, an environmental activist group and son of fashion designer and environmental campaigner Vivienne Westwood, was requesting a judicial review of the government’s new drive to boost fracking in the UK amid mounting pressure from environmentalists.
Corre argued that the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Greg Clark, made it evident through a ministerial statement that the government was actively pursuing shale gas extraction and expected local authorities to back any shale extraction plans, exhorting them not to “set restrictions or thresholds across their plan area that limit shale development without proper justification.”
“Shale gas development is of national importance,” Clarke said in the statement. “A potential new shale gas exploration and production sector in the shale basins of England could provide a new economic driver.”
“The Government expects Mineral Planning Authorities to give great weight to the benefits of mineral extraction, including to the economy,” Clarke continued. “This includes shale gas exploration and extraction.”
The judicial review requests the court to assess whether Clarke and National Planning Policy Framework guidance have failed to act legally with regards to conducting adequate environmental assessments and potentially breaching the 2008 Climate Change Act.