A community group and an anti-fracking campaigner have lost their legal challenge against the Communities’ Secretary over the way he granted permission for fracking at a site in Lancashire.

Sir Ian Dove, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London this morning dismissed the case by Preston New Road Action Group and Gayzer Frackman.

This clears the way for Cuadrilla to drill, frack and test up to four wells at its Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton near Blackpool.

It is the final stage in the company’s planning battle, which began in June 2015, when Lancashire County Council refused permission for the site because of its impact on noise and visual amenity.

The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, granted planning consent in October last year, following the recommendation off the inspector at a 19-day public inquiry.

Preston New Road Action Group challenged the decision, saying Mr Javid had misunderstood or misapplied local and national planning policy in approving the fracking scheme.

Campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, from Lytham, argued that the minister’s decision failed to consider climate change and gaps in regulations to protect public health.

Cuadrilla began site work at Preston New Road on 5 January 2017 and is expected to begin drilling during the three months between April and June 2017.

Another Cuadrilla site, at Roseacre Wood, was also refused permission by the council and is the subject of a separate legal challenge. Mr Javid said he was minded to grant approval for this site, despite the planning inspector’s recommendation to refuse because of its impact on highway safety.

The minister said he would reopen the public inquiry to give Cuadrilla another chance to explain how it could resolve traffic problems. That decision has been challenged by Roseacre resident, Jules Burton. A court hearing is expected in the summer.

More details and reaction to the ruling soon on DrillOrDrop