High Court dismisses challenge to hydrocarbon exploration and appraisal permission in West Sussex


On Friday 13th October, Mrs Justice Lieven dismissed a statutory review challenge to a hydrocarbon exploration and appraisal proposal. The challenge was brought by Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association on six grounds, raising issues such as interpretation of minerals policy, climate change and EIA screening.

West Sussex County Council had refused the application for planning permission (which had then been granted by an Inspector on appeal) and so were in the unusual situation of defending only one of the grounds of challenge, that relating to EIA screening. That challenge was dismissed, both in terms of the definition of the ‘project’ and on the basis of the extent to which greenhouse gas emissions needed to be expressly considered in the screening opinion in circumstances where the scale of the project was so far below the guideline threshold that significant environmental impacts were very unlikely.

The Judgment may be accessed here.

Jenny Wigley KC represented the County Council in the High Court, with Robert Walton KC advising at earlier stages.

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