Update: High Court challenge to UK government over Drax gas plan decision

Media statement

Thurs 30 April 2020

Yesterday marked the second day of the hearing of ClientEarth’s High Court challenge to the UK government’s decision to grant planning consent for a new gas plant, proposed by Drax Power.

The court heard that the Secretary of State’s decision to approve the plant demands a higher degree of scrutiny because it went against the recommendation of its own expert body, the Planning Inspectorate.

In court, ClientEarth’s legal team also argued that the proposed gas plant’s significant adverse effects on the environment, including a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions, should have been properly taken into account by the government.

ClientEarth contended that the UK government unlawfully failed to properly and fairly take into account the impact of the new national net zero target on Drax’s application, as well as the future impact of the project, including beyond 2050.

In the planning inquiry that preceded the government’s decision, we set out the huge carbon lock-in risks posed by the project, and the fact that it risked undermining the UK’s commitments under the Climate Change Act 2008.

These arguments were accepted by the Planning Inspectorate in recommending that consent for the project be refused – the first time it had done so on climate grounds for a nationally significant infrastructure project.

Tomorrow, the court convenes for the third day of the hearing. The hearing is being held online and administered by the Planning Court, which is part of the Queen’s Bench Division at the Royal Courts of Justice.

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