Environmental lawyers 'exploring all legal avenues' over Leadsom's Drax gas plant approval

Legal and environmental campaign group ClientEarth has said it is "exploring all legal avenues" in the wake of the government's decision to give the green light to plans to build gas-fire power facilities at the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire against the advice of the Planning Inspectorate (PINS).

Drax: gas plant plan approved last week (pic: Tim Dennell, Flickr)
Drax: gas plant plan approved last week (pic: Tim Dennell, Flickr)

Yesterday, it emerged that a development consent order (DCO) to develop facilities for 3.6 gigawatts of gas-fired power generation and up to 200 megawatts of battery storage, replacing the two existing coal-fired power units on the site, had been approved by energy secretary Andrea Leadsom.

Leadsom’s decision was contrary to the recommendations laid out in the PINS report, which advised against granting consent on various grounds, including that the approval would be contrary to "circumstances where decarbonisation is a key policy objective and government commitment".

Responding to the decision by the secretary of state to grant development consent, ClientEarth said it would look "at all legal avenues available", adding that the decision "flies in the face of the government’s established decarbonisation strategy and the expertise of its own planning authority".

It added: "Now that Andrea Leadsom has decided to overrule the government’s own planning authority, our team is looking at additional approaches to protecting our future from this unnecessary polluter.

"Drax’s proposal is considered a nationally significant infrastructure project under the 2008 Planning Act. As such the plan must comply with the relevant national policy statements and the requirement in the Act that a project’s adverse climate impacts do not outweigh its benefits."

Last month, the campaign group, which has previously successfully challenged the government's plans to cut air pollution, told 100 English local authorities that they have eight weeks to explain how they will "set evidence-based carbon reduction targets" in their emerging local plans, or face legal action.

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