Ryedale District Council last week voted in favour of a "five-year moratorium on fracking", arguing that scientifically "the case for fracking is not made". Members agreed to reconsider the policy "when sufficient evidence becomes available" on the effects of fracking.
The decision comes after council solicitor and monitoring officer Anthony Winship submitted a report to the council in February, warning that the policy "would be unlawful as unreasonably fettering the council’s discretion and would render any later resolution to object to a particular fracking planning application or other fracking-related matter open to judicial review".
Winship advised that "if the council were to be challenged and lose a judicial review, it might expect that its own legal costs would amount to a minimum of £50,000". He said the authority would also be liable for the applicant's legal costs, "which might amount to as much as £200,000".
In addition, the report continued, "where the council had acted unlawfully, it could expect to be liable to the applicant for damages in respect of any business loss which the applicant has suffered as a result of the unlawful action by the council, including delay to a profitable development".