Britain’s High Court has ruled that planning permission granted to a large-scale gas-fired power plant and energy storage facility in northern England is legal.

The Court has dismissed an appeal filed by environmental charity ClientEarth against a development consent order granted by the government for the Drax gas plant in Yorkshire.

In its ruling, the court dismissed ClientEarth’s challenge and said that there are public interest issues that operate in favour of granting development consent for the project, including security of supply and supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.

The British government approved plans for the construction and operation of two gas-fired generation units and two battery storage units at the existing Drax power plant in October 2019.

However ClientEarth said that construction of the 1.8 GW project would undermine the government’s own plans to reduce carbon emissions and launched a legal challenge to the decision in the High Court in January 2020.

ClientEarth argued that the proposed plant would lock the UK into “heavily polluting” gas for decades. “In its planning application, Drax failed to explain how this emissions-intensive gas project squares with the UK’s carbon targets and its strategy for clean growth,” said ClientEarth lawyer Sam Hunter Jones. “And the Government’s own energy forecasts show that the UK does not need a major roll out of new large-scale gas generation capacity.”

ClientEarth said it was “very dissatisfied” by the judgement.

A Drax spokesman said: “The development of new high efficiency gas power at Drax would support the UK’s decarbonising energy system.”

The project could start operating in late 2023.