Impacts of Horse Hill judgment show as government concedes other plans are unlawful

Placard reading 'Not Horse Hill, Not Anywhere' in front of Big Ben
Placard by Alice Owen

The Weald Action Group’s Supreme Court victory is starting to have effects across the country.

Today, Angela Rayner, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government,  has admitted that a controversial new coal mine in Cumbria was permitted unlawfully. Michael Gove, ex Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, granted planning permission for the mine in December 2022. Read a press release from Friends of the Earth

And the the Secretary of State  and oil company Egdon Resources Limited have accepted that planning permission for an oil development at Biscathorpe in Lincolnshire was unlawful. Read an update from Cornerstone Barristers

Both had been approved without an assessment of the climate impacts of combustion of the fuel to be produced. Regarding Horse Hill, the Supreme Court ruled that “The council’s decision to grant planning permission for this project… was unlawful because… the [Environmental Impact Assessment] for the project failed to assess the effect on climate of the combustion of the oil to be produced”. It is good to see the government recognising this applies to other sites.

Adam Vaughan, Environment editor of The Times, tweeted, “This could be start of avalanche of decisions against planning approvals for UK fossil fuel projects.”

We at Weald Action Group certainly hope so. We hope the next developments to get caught up in the avalanche will include the giant Rosebank oil and gas field in the North Sea.

Sarah Finch, who brought the case on behalf of the Weald Action Group, said, “I am overjoyed to see our win at Horse Hill bearing such amazing fruits. We started out fighting one development in Surrey but quickly realised the impacts would be wider than that. It is so gratifying that our five-year fight in the Weald has helped to defeat a climate-wrecking coal mine in Cumbria and an oil development in Lincolnshire. This could be a tipping point on the road to a safer future.”


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