Frack Free Balcombe Residents Association (FFBRA), acting through resident Sue Taylor, has brought the challenge which seeks a quashing order from the court.
The proposed operation would involve four weeks of pumping to remove wellbore fluids followed by two weeks of earth moving. An extended well test would continue for 12 months, with a continually burning flare and running generator. If the operation did not result in planning permission for longer term oil drilling, two months of plugging and site restoration would be needed.
In summary, FFBRA’s grounds of challenge argues that the Inspector:
1. Acted irrationally by only taking into account benefits, but not the harms, of the future extraction of hydrocarbons.
2. Unlawfully interpreted and/or applied policy M7 of the West Sussex Joint Local Minerals Plan 2018.
3. Failed to consider alternatives to development in the AONB, as required under the exceptional circumstances test in national and local policy.
4. Failed to comply with the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 with no consideration of whether the development was an integral part of a wider project and no consideration of the environmental effects of emissions.
5. Failed to consider the development’s impacts on climate change.
6. Failed to assess (or take into account an assessment of) impact on water courses.
In granting permission (on all grounds), Mrs Justice Lang found that the Claimant had raised arguable grounds which merit consideration at a full hearing.
Merrow Golden acts for the Claimant, led by David Wolfe KC and instructed by Leigh Day solicitors.