Challenging the new pro-fracking policy

by Emily Shirley (on behalf of SaFE Alliance)

Challenging the new pro-fracking policy

by Emily Shirley (on behalf of SaFE Alliance)

Be part of a historic case that will give rights back to communities to determine whether fracking should happen locally or not.

on 02nd October 2015
pledged by 198 people

Be part of a historic case that will give rights back to communities to determine whether fracking should happen locally or not.

The new Government fracking policy

On 13 August 2015, the Government issued a further pro-fracking policy that will make it virtually impossible for local communities to stop fracking (including underground coal gasification) in their areas.

The Government has announced that it will give itself expansive new powers to override local decisions that go against fracking applications and to also punish local authorities that take the time to properly consider such important decisions. This approach wholly contradicts the Government’s purported localism agenda and will have a dramatic impact on the environment, including increasing carbon emissions, at a time when the Government has dropped zero carbon housing targets and scrapped the green deal policy aimed at reducing carbon emission in existing homes.

The policy ends local decision-making as we know it

The Government has changed the planning policy to make it virtually impossible for local people to stop fracking in their areas. There is now a new presumption in favour of both the need for fracking and its safety which will inevitably trump arguments of climate change, environmental harms and local population impact.

By issuing this policy, the Government has prioritised fracking over and above renewable energy, energy efficiency and is undermining if not removing meaningful local democratic input.

The Government has failed to undertake any consultation, or conduct an impact assessment (environmental or otherwise) on what is a substantial change to current planning processes.

This policy will increase carbon emissions and lead to dangerous climate change. The Government has not explained how this policy should be considered alongside other, inconsistent, aspects of the planning regime, nor given local authorities any time to consider the policy and adjust local plans accordingly.

The policy will also allow the Secretary of State to intervene more easily in local planning decisions when they are not consistent with the Government’s position and to punish local authorities who take a reasonable time to consider complex fracking.

As a result, up and down the country, communities will have fracking operations imposed on them whether they like it or not.

If this policy is not withdrawn, we will take our case to the High Court in order to challenge this dangerous and unacceptable policy

Our aim – with your help

Help us send a clear message to Government by making a pledge today. Not only are the Government acting dangerously by overriding local democratic processes, they are ignoring public concerns, as well as established climate science.

  • The Government has a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions by around 25% within the next five years in order to avoid dangerous climate change. Fracking will do the opposite.
  • The Government is acting irresponsibly and irrationally by issuing a policy that will increase carbon emissions leading to dangerous climate change.

This case will be the first to challenge the Government’s pro fracking stance, approach to climate change and local democracy. We are seeking to get the Government to change course and to implement adequate climate change policies and to give local communities a say in what energy choices they would prefer.

Help us use the law to support climate recovery and local democracy.

How your pledge will help

We are raising £20,000 to be able to instruct experienced public law solicitors, Bindmans LLP, and counsel to engage in pre-action correspondence and then bring proceedings for judicial review to challenge the Government’s policy. The funds would also protect us against adverse costs liability should the challenge be unsuccessful.

About the claimant

The SaFE Alliance was formed in December 2013 by concerned citizens who recognise the need to use legal routes to halt the ‘dash for gas’ in the UK. (Emily Shirley pictured is one of the founders of SaFE). The Alliance is focused on unconventional gas and oil exploitation (also referred to as shale gas extraction), including the use of high volume, high pressure hydraulic fracturing – the technology that is widely referred to as fracking – as well as coal bed methane extraction. The Alliance’s key messages are: - Our objective is safety - Rationality - The SaFE Alliance is a rational response to the available evidence - We have a right to clarity and **transparency**.

Fast facts

## Name of case R (on the application of Emily Shirley (on behalf of SaFE Alliance)) v Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government and Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change ## What's at stake Fracking undermines renewable energy, and energy efficiency. The new pro-fracking policy also undermines local democracy. A Judicial review of the latest pro-fracking policy will challenge the Government’s attempt to disregard the impact of fracking on the environment and the knock-on-effects to local people and their surroundings. The time to tackle this policy is now! Before a fracking site opens on your doorstep. If this remains unchallenged not even your local authority will be able to help you as the Government will be able to override any of their planning application decisions.

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