This week, Preston New Road Action Group have announced they are taking their fracking legal challenge to the Manchester Court of Civil Justice. The move comes after months of protest against the fracking company Cuadrilla, who have recently started work on a new site at Preston New Road.
This work went ahead despite the local county council’s decision not to permit their operations, after the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, overturned the decision.
Preston New Road Action Group have released the following statement:
We have consistently, through legal process, fought to have the voice of local residents heard. The voice of our community was loud and strong 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.
Local democracy and true justice have not been observed in Lancashire so far. We hope finally, to see the justice for which Britain used to be known for, restored, and the will of communities and the local planning system upheld.
Micromanagement of our community by Westminster, when at the same time this government preaches devolution to local councils, is symbolic of a government which says one thing and does another. It is fundamentally wrong that the corporate greed triumphs over community health and wellbeing.
Theresa May talks of “justice for all”. That message has not permeated to her ministers, it would seem.
The Conservative government have denied Preston New Road and Lancashire Community the right to “influence and be involved in shaping and determining planning decisions” as outlined as an aim in the government’s National Planning Police Framework.
The Secretary of State’s decision to overrule local planning law is open to question, in much the same way as some of his other decisions have recently provoked questions in Westminster. His decision makes a sham of Theresa May’s oratory.
Dismantling local democracy was the only way this industry and central government could force fracking down the throats of unwilling local residents. This is corruption and abuse of power. There is no social licence to frack Lancashire. This overturning of a local planning decision must be quashed.
Democracy died in Lancashire after this October 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.
People matter, communities matter: our views must be the guiding principle on which true democracy is based. Lancashire has spoken and we will be heard.