Legal bid to halt gas power plant development fails

A challenge in the court of appeal against Government approval for a gas-fired power plant being developed by Drax, in North Yorkshire, has failed.

The legal challenge was mounted after Government ministers overruled climate change objections from the planning authority.

Once it is complete, the power plant at Drax’s Selby site should be the biggest gas power station in Europe.

In 2019 the Planning Inspectorate recommended ministers refuse permission for the 3.6GW gas plant on the grounds that it “would undermine the Government’s commitment, as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008, to cut greenhouse emissions [by having] significant adverse effects.”

Andrea Leadsom, who was Secretary of State for business, energy and industrial strategy at the time of the planning application, rejected this advice and gave the project the green light in October 2019. The high court rules against ClientEarth’s initial legal challenge in May last year.

Commenting in The Guardian, A Drax spokesman said: “Drax power station plays a vital role in the UK’s energy system, generating reliable electricity for millions of homes and businesses.”

He said the company aimed to be capturing more carbon dioxide than it emitted by 2030 by burning plants or wood in other power stations and burying the emissions.

And he added the gas plant project was not certain to go ahead because it still depends on Drax’s investment decisions and on obtaining a capacity market contract from the Government.