ANTI-FRACKING campaigners are launching legal action against Environment Secretary Sajid Javid today after he overruled local authorities in Lancashire that had refused planning permission for the controversial process.
Lancashire County Council and several local councils refused permission for energy firm Cuadrilla to drill at Preston New Road, near Fylde, responding to widespread opposition from residents.
But Cuadrilla appealed to the Environment Secretary against the decision, and in October Mr Javid sided with the company.
Bringing the challenge in Manchester Court of Civil Justice, residents’ organisation Preston New Road Action Group said Mr Javid’s intervention was unlawful and undemocratic.
The group said the decision flies in the face of Prime Minister Theresa May’s stated commitment to respect local democracy.
Action group chair Pat Davies said: “We have consistently, through legal process, fought to have the voice of local residents heard. The voice of our community was loud and strong and it said No to fracking.
“Local democracy, which said No, was overturned by the Secretary of State in Westminster.
“Sajid Javid has not visited or engaged with the communities that would be affected to understand the real impacts of his decision. We believe that this is neither just nor democratic.
“We seek to have the Secretary of State’s decision declared unjust and quashed.”
Ms Davies said that Westminster “micromanagement” of controversial local issues was symbolic of “a government which says one thing and does another.
“It is fundamentally wrong that corporate greed triumphs over community health and wellbeing. His decision makes a sham of Theresa May’s oratory.
“Democracy died in Lancashire after this decision. We hope it can be resurrected by the Manchester court finding this decision to allow fracking unlawful and one which must be revoked immediately.”