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Frack Free Balcombe Residents v West Sussex County Council

DATE: 05 Dec 2014

The High Court has today handed down judgment in Case No: CO/2725/14 Frack Free Balcombe Residents v West Sussex County Council

The judicial review sought to quash the planning permission of 2nd May 2014 granted by West Sussex County Council (“WSCC”), as minerals planning authority, to Cuadrilla Balcombe Limited (“CBL”) for  “temporary permission for exploration and appraisal comprising the flow testing and monitoring of the existing hydrocarbon lateral borehole along with site security fencing, the provision of an enclosed testing flare, and site restoration”  at the Lower Stumble Hydrocarbon Exploration Site, London Road, Balcombe, West Sussex.  This site had been the scene of a number of protests when operations took place under an earlier planning permission. 

The Claimant argued that:

  1. the Planning Committee of WSCC was wrongly advised that it should leave matters such as pollution control, air emissions and well integrity to the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) and other statutory bodies;
  2. the Committee was misled with regard to the views of PHE on air emissions monitoring, and of HSE on well integrity;
  3. the Committee was wrongly advised to treat as immaterial evidence of past breaches of planning condition by CBL;
  4. the Committee was wrongly advised that the number of objections received (as opposed to their content) was immaterial;
  5. the Committee was wrongly advised that the issue of the costs generated by protests at the activities of CBL was immaterial.

Gilbart J. rejected all of these grounds.

Please find the judgment here.

James Maurici QC appeared for the Defendant, the West Sussex County Council.