A High Court judge has ordered the removal of a camp outside Rathlin Energy’s exploratory drilling site at West Newton in East Yorkshire.
In a hearing today at Hull Combined Court, His Honour Jeremy Richardson QC granted a possession order to the landowner, Norman Caley Ltd and awarded initial costs of £10,000.
The camp had been used during the summer and autumn by campaigners opposed to Rathlin’s operation and by people monitoring its impact on the environment. There has been no one at the camp since Rathlin Energy cleared the West Newton site last month.
One of the monitors, who calls himself Joe Public, defended the possession order. He told the court consent had been given for the camp and then withdrawn. “I stayed on the land to monitor what Rathlin were doing”, he said.
Mr Public said he had hoped to use the hearing to draw attention to his concerns about Rathlin’s operation. But Judge Richardson restricted discussion to the possession order.
He ordered Mr Public – the only person named on the order – to leave the camp and pay initial costs of £10,000 within 14 days. The landowner’s full claim for costs is to be assessed by the court.
Mr Public asked the judge where could he raise the results of his observations, if he could not do so in the High Court. The judge said he was unable to give Mr Public legal advice.
After the hearing, Mr Public said he was dejected by the result.
“We were given the impression the other side were going to give evidence. We were led into an ambush. We didn’t have a chance to put our evidence”.
He said eight people had agreed to go into the witness box. “We had a meeting with them. They withdrew before the case because they were frightened of being labelled domestic terrorists”, he said.
Asked how he would pay the costs, he said “I don’t even have £10”.
“Costs should not be awarded against me because I took responsibility for something”, he said. “We have tried to do this the lawful route and we have hit a stone wall”.