Energy Policy: The UK Government conceded

3 October 2020 — Goodlaw Project

The Government has at last accepted it must review its outdated energy policy that has allowed fossil fuel projects to be forced through. This important concession from Government, which can be read here, followed judicial review proceedings launched by Good Law Project in March alongside noted environmentalists Dale Vince and George Monbiot.

The policy in question was published back in 2011 and sets out the Government’s strategy for meeting the energy needs of the country.  But it forces a presumption in favour of fossil fuels and fails to take into account a number of commitments by the Government to tackle the climate crisis, including in the Paris Agreement and the Netzero by 2050 commitment enacted by Parliament in 2019.  

It has meant that approval to frack in Lancashire or permission for a Gas-fired power station can be forced through, without regard for our national and international commitments – or the needs of the planet. As we teeter on the brink of climate crisis, the commitment from Government to review this policy has been hard-won and essential.

But it does not go far enough. We claimed not only that Government should review the Energy National Policy Statement – a claim that the Secretary of State has conceded – but also that the NPS should be suspended whilst the review is carried out. Unless Government concedes on this point too we will continue with the remainder of our challenge. The letter from our legal team to Government can be read here

For those of us terrified of the impending climate catastrophe, this is an important victory and proof that the law is a powerful tool to force the Government to fulfil its obligations. Litigation of this scale and importance is undeniably difficult and success is never certain. But we are able to take on these cases because of the support of thousands of people like you. 

Thank you,

Jolyon Maugham QC

Director of Good Law Project

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