Judge: rule of law challenged by greens
Dec 8, 2014
Bishop Hill in BBC, Energy: gas, Greens

The tactics of the less reputable members of the environmental fraternity has long been to prevent any sort of industrial activity by making the cost of policing their protests so high as to wear public opinion into submission. One has to say that this approach has not been entirely unsuccessful.

It was interesting then to see the comments of Mr Justice Gilbart in rejecting FrackFree Balcombe's application for judicial review of West Sussex Council's decision to allow planning permission to the Cuadrilla project. There is a BBC report of the hearing here, but strangely the news of its rejection doesn't seem to have made the cut.

During the hearings, it seems that FFB's barrister argued that the cost of managing the disruption caused by protestors should have been taken into account by the planning committee. As the judge explained:

...what was really being argued here...was that the County Council should take into account the cost of dealing with the activities of those who disagree with their decision, and were and are prepared to misuse the right to protest to do so.

This approach, he said had "not the slightest merit" and he cited the ruling in an earlier case that had made it quite clear that this was simply a matter of the rule of law:

English law is unsurprisingly replete with examples of ringing judicial dicta vindicating the rule of law. Amongst them are these:

And then there was this quote from the same case:

One thread runs consistently throughout all the case law: the recognition that public authorities must beware of surrendering to the dictates of unlawful pressure groups. The implications of such surrender for the rule of law can hardly be exaggerated.

This is utterly damning of the environmentalists' approach. You can see why the BBC would want to give it a miss.

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