Environmentalists follow Heathrow ruling by calling on government to end fossil fuel developments

4 March 2020

Following last week’s historic Heathrow ruling, environmentalists Dale Vince and George Monbiot have today joined forces with Jolyon Maugham’s Good Law Project to call on the government to review out-of-date planning policy that supports development of new fossil fuel projects, despite the country’s legally binding net zero by 2050 commitments. 

The three claimants have written to the government demanding a review of current National Policy Statements that govern how planning decisions are made.

If the government does not agree to reviewing these policies within the fourteen-day period set out in the letter to the Secretary of State, the claimants will seek a court order and a judicial review to force change.   

This action follows the Court of Appeal’s decision last week to rule Heathrow Airport’s expansion illegal, due to incompatibility with the 2016 Paris Agreement, and legislation committing the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

The UK’s National Policy Statements for energy developments were set out in 2011 and do not recognise, or grapple with the impact of the Paris Agreement, recent IPCC reports or parliament’s net zero push. 

Outdated policies are currently being used to push through project after project. In October 2019, the Secretary of State relied on them to grant development content for the Drax gas-fired conversion in North Yorkshire, even though the appointed inspector recommended it be rejected. 

Existing National Policy Statements also mean approval to frack, or permission for a new open-cast coal mines, can be forced through, overriding national and international climate-change commitments and targets. 

A crowdfunder has been launched, seeking to raise £100,000 to fund the legal action needed should the government not comply.

 

Dale Vince, Founder, Ecotricity, said: 

“We’re using a 20th Century energy policy with its baked in fossil fuel mentality, to deal with a 21st Century crisis - caused by fossil fuels.  It makes no sense.  We urgently need to bring energy policy up to date so that we can make the rapid transition to renewable energy and zero carbon emissions. The science is clear, policy needs to catch up.”

 

George Monbiot, commented: 

“Recent scientific papers make it clear that - to stand any chance of preventing climate breakdown - we need to stop commissioning new fossil fuel-powered energy infrastructure. The UK government’s policies are out of date, and out of tune with the need to defend a habitable planet. They threaten the wellbeing of humanity and the rest of life on Earth. I hope our action leads to a radical shift in policy.”

 

Jolyon Maugham QC, Founder, The Good Law Project, added: 

“Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity.

“Government attempts to address the issue with warm words around their 2050 targets. But they do this whilst pushing forward with an energy policy agenda that means fossil-fuel projects can still go-ahead by the backdoor with little oversight, or recourse to justice for communities affected.

“It’s time for this hypocrisy to end and for the government to get their house in order. It is time to put the planet first, which is why we are calling on the Secretary of State to stop the executive making decisions based on flawed and outdated frameworks set out in little-known or understood national policy statements.”

You can support the case on Crowdfunder here

 

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