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Shropshire campaigners' despair at fracking court case defeat

Oswestry | News | Published:

A failed High Court challenge against one of the nation's first fracking applications has been met with disappointment by campaigners in Shropshire.

Chris Hesketh, chairman of Frack Free Dudleston, said the ruling against campaigners in North Yorkshire was a blow to attempts to hold back the spread of controiversial drilling for gas.

He said: "It seems incredible that the fracking industry is persisting with trying to impose itself on a population that doesn't want it."

Last year Frack Free Dudleston claimed victory in its fight against plans to drill for coal-bed methane gas in the Ellesmere area.

The case went to the Planning Inspectorate before it was eventually withdrawn in July when Dart's licence with the landowner ended.

But residents from the village of Kirby Misperton in Rydale, North Yorkshire, have not been successful in a bid to block a decision to allow hydraulic fracturing near their homes.

Mrs Justice Lang, sitting in London, dismissed their application for judicial review in a decision which allows fracking to go ahead.

Mr Hesketh said: "The news is very disappointing and I feel sorry for the people of Ryedale.

"It seems incredible that the fracking industry is persisting with trying to impose itself on a population that doesn't want it.

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"The Government's own research shows that British people have an increasingly strong preference for clean energy over fracking. In a democratic country the public will does win through in the end."

One of the lead campaigners from Rydale, Reverend Jackie Cray, said: "I'm obviously disappointed in the verdict but it doesn't end here. There is no support in North Yorkshire for this risky industry."

Fracking company Third Energy was granted permission by North Yorkshire County Council in May 2016 to frack just a quarter of a mile from Mrs Cray's home.

Mr Hesketh added: "The other factor that makes this so foolish is that companies like Third Energy are wanting to "have a go" to see if they can make fracking work in the UK even though there is expert geological evidence suggesting that their chances of success are very low."

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"The people of Ryedale will be obliged to put up with the impacts on their lives while getting no benefit and knowing that their suffering isn't in the national interest either.

"A fracking industry typically takes around 10 years to get established, even without public opposition slowing it down.

"That means that they are hoping to start providing a new source of fossil fuels at a time when coal will long be gone and in order to meet our legally binding climate commitments, will also be scaling back our gas consumption.

"The current rapid reductions in renewable energy and battery storage costs is predicted to continue, so by 2027 there will be no economic case for fracking and the whole debacle will have been in vain.

He added: "We would be far better off embracing the technology of the future and preparing our distribution grids, than wasting investor money on drilling holes in the ground."

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