THE mayor of Malton has failed in his attempt to bring a legal challenge against the Government over the definition of fracking.

Cllr Paul Andrews went to the High Court in London on Monday to seek permission for a judicial review of a written ministerial statement issued in May.

In the statement, the business secretary, Greg Clark, and the local government secretary, James Brokenshire, said that local authorities should recognise a definition of fracking, set out in legislation, when making their decisions.

Cllr Andrews said, if unchallenged, the statement would mean that local authorities would be unable to represent their communities or set limits to control fracking in their areas.

Mr Justice Holgate dismissed Cllr Andrews’ challenge but indicated that the written ministerial statement was guidance only.

He said: “In my judgement, the policy statement in question simply refers to two definitions of fracking which should be considered by planning authorities when drawing up their developing plans.”

Cllr Andrews, who raised more than £23,000 via Crowd Justice to launch his legal challenge, said: “While we are disappointed that the judge did not allow us to proceed with the Judicial Review, we are delighted that he has stated that local authorities could disregard government planning guidance on issues such as the definition of fracking provided there was sufficient justification.

“This should allow the Yorkshire Plan, which was developed over a number of years by our elected representatives in collaboration with local residents and the oil and gas industry, to be approved as it stands.”

He added: “I believe the Written Ministerial Statement was a desperate attempt by central government to override the modest restrictions on fracking included in the the plan, and is likely to have been the result of frantic lobbying by the oil and gas industry in the days after the approval of the Local Plan.

“It appears that the carefully considered decisions by locally-elected councillors, who have spent years drawing up the plan in consultation with local communities, count for nothing in the face of the ever-increasing demands of the oil and gas industry.”

Steve Mason, from campaign group Frack Free United, said: “We may not have won the case, but we won a very important concession from the judge. Local authorities can now set their own definitions of fracking. The North Yorkshire local authorities can stand by their plan and put it into action, even though it does not comply with the government’s definition.”