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Judge grants injunction for Cuadrilla’s fracking site – but rejects protest area proposal

Manchester civil justice centre 2

A High Court judge has granted an injunction outlawing public access to Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

But his honour Philip Raynor QC refused the company’s application to exclude from the injunction a protest area on land about 175m from the site entrance.

He said the area, measuring 25m by 25m, was too small to be reasonable and could be a source of “increased anger” if protest was limited to it.

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operations told the court in Manchester they feared they would be “corralled” in the protest area and it would be used to justify excluding protest along the roadside.

They believed this would establish a precedent that could be used at other shale gas sites around the country.

The injunction, brought by two Cuadrilla companies and 11 landowners, covers the shale gas site and fields surrounding it. It comes into effect immediately and will last until August 2018. It restores an injunction that has been in place on the area between August 2014 and October 2016.

The terms prevent anyone from entering or remaining on the land, or obstructing, impeding or otherwise interfering with the activities of Cuadrilla, the landowners, their employees, agents, contractors or licensees.

The injunction also applies to anyone who knows about the injunction and does anything that helps or permits someone to breach the terms of the order.

People who disobey the order may be held in contempt of court, for which they could be imprisoned or fined or both. Or they could be found guilty of a criminal offence.

“Injunction justified by day of action”

Jonathan Chew, for Cuadrilla and the landowners, said the injunction was justified by actions of people on Saturday 25 February 2017, after a national anti-fracking day of action nearby at Maple Farm.

The court heard a witness statement from James Dobson, the head of business resilience for Cuadrilla Resources. He said:

“At around 14:00hrs around 200 protestors began walking down Preston New Road towards the site from the nearby Maple Farm. As the protestors approached the site, the atmosphere in the crowd significantly changed and became more hostile. There followed five separate aggressive incidents.”

Mr Dobson said at just after 2pm, an estimated 23-30 men with their faces covered with balaclavas and masks approached “the gates at speed”. He said “they pushed, lifted and kicked the temporary fencing.” Security staff prevented access.

Protesters then “tore down numerous Heras fence panels” in another area, Mr Dobson said. There were multiple attempts to access the site, several security staff were verbally abused, kicked and spat at. Smoke bombs were used, he said.

Mr Dobson said some protesters headed towards the farmhouse belonging to some of the landowners but they were also denied access.

The court heard there had been incidents of trespass on 8 October 2016, two days after the Secretary State granted planning permission for Preston New Road, and on 16 February 2017. Mr Chew also referred to a phone call to Cuadrilla’s lawyers, Eversheds, before the day of action from a man, who said his name was Danny. According to a witness statement by solicitor Julie Dilcock, the man, who described himself as an “anti-fracking person” said he was “trying to stop thousands of people going into a field” on the day of action and getting arrested.

Tina Rothery, a named defendant on the injunction, told the court Cuadrilla had misinterpreted the evidence of the day of action.

“I say a very small number of people entered the field and some of them did it because they thought something was happening there. A water ceremony was taking place nearby. One person was dragged into the field by their dog.”

But Judge Rayner said:

“There is plainly justification for an injunction. There is a plain and obvious threat of trespass in the light of what has happened in the past. Nobody has any right to enter the land and commit acts of disturbance.”

He said the injunction granted in 2014 had proved it was worthwhile because there had been substantial compliance with it.

Protest area – “source of public anger”

Judge Raynor accepted the argument of anti-fracking campaigners on the proposed protest area.

Ms Rothery said:

“We believe it would be used to corral us to prevent our human rights to protest where we choose, on the public road.

Judge Rayner said:

“There are a huge number of people who want to protest against this [operation at Preston New Road]. An area of 25m by 25m is not a reasonable protest area to provide and I can see it would be the source of increased anger and public disturbance if protest was to be limited to that area.”

After the hearing, anti-fracking campaigner, Ian Crane, who attended court to oppose the protest area and asked to be named on the injunction, said:

“We got exactly the result we were looking for. The events of last Saturday gifted Cuadrilla with the ability to restore the previous injunction. That was incontestable. I was here specifically to address the issue of the protest area because we knew why Cuadrilla and the police wanted it. They could corral us to limit public scrutiny of the company.”

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said the company would still set aside what it called a “Designated Viewing Area”. In a statement, the company said:

“Under the terms of the injunction Cuadrilla will still be able to make this view area accessible to all who choose to utilise it by granting access consent, which the company will do.”

“I have done nothing. I have not been in the field”

Ms Rothery, who represented herself, urged the court to take her name off the injunction.

Cuadrilla said her name was on the order because she had been a named defendant on the 214 injunction. The company said the correct process was to ask the court to “restore” the original claim.

But Ms Rothery said the company should make a fresh claim because the circumstances had changed.

“I have done nothing. I have not been in the field. I have no intention of going on that field. I cannot say I would never do it. But it is not my intention to have any more legal problems.”

Mr Chew, for Cuadrilla and the landowner, said a Facebook post by Ms Rothery in October 2016 and an interview she gave to BBC Lancashire after the day of action were evidence that she should be named on the order.

According to the interview transcript, Ms Rothery said:

“Today we didn’t take your [Cuadrilla’s] field. It doesn’t mean we won’t”. … We will come in greater numbers the further they progress. And we won’t stop because we can’t be stopped and it doesn’t end until we succeed”.

Ms Rothery said:

“I am a 5ft grandma. If I want to win, all I can do is do it with words. I have nothing else to fight with. … I have used words that make it sound that I am tougher than I am.”

But Judge Raynor said:

“They are words of threat and plainly justify granting the injunction against you.”

Ms Rothery told the court she felt out of her depth and unprepared. She said:

“I have no ability to get access to the legal advice that they [Cuadrilla] have. I feel there is no real justice for me because I cannot afford it. There should be justice available without it having to cost money.”

She explained that she would not ask for an adjournment because she “could not afford another financial hit”.

During the hearings on the 2014 injunction, she asked for an adjournment to take legal advice. She later presented no evidence and Cuadrilla was awarded costs against her, totalling more than £55,000. Her legal dispute with the company was finally resolved in December 2016.

After making his ruling, Judge Raynor said:

“I am grateful for the way that those who bitterly oppose this development for behaving today with the greatest of restraint and respect.”

49 replies »

  1. Judge patting snowflakes for “behaving today”, you guys really have no shame do you? Is it not embarrassing that you’re looked upon as child like in character?
    We got out what we wanted and that is a stronger mandate for future arrests when you ‘can’t behave’.
    Moving onto the 15th now where you’re going to lose thousands for misleading ppl with your nonsense of doom.

    Why don’t you save up your pennies and help finance an early warning alert system for asteroids. That is something you should genuinely be worried about and Mr Crane actually looks more akin to. Fracking won’t mean zilch if one of those bad boys strikes.

    • I totally agree GottabeKidding. The appalling provocative and dangerous behaviour, many of whom appear to be unemployed people who are just up for a fight should be stopped.
      Protest by all means, you can wave your banners, but all of the other stuff? You have no legal or moral right to stop a legal activity

      • Gotta laugh at little Tina’s use of “another financial hit”. She hasn’t had to pay a penny so far as the previous judge laughed and said put it away when she brought out her piggy bank.
        Her legal jargon starts and ends with the use of “human rights” and “free” aka a free loader.
        I’m sure it won’t stop her from enjoying her hobby of hanging off sides of lorries though after all she literally has nothing to lose!

        • You think your big and clever. You and your family will have plenty of time to regret when you can.t get s fresh glass of water from your tap. 85 percent of fracking wells are over fresh water aquifers. The water will be poisoned a long time after the prospectors have run off with their paltry profits.

          • Not permitted to drill above fresh water aquifers. Yet again someone posting about things they dont appear to know about. There are regulations in the UK

            • Ah but Johnson they will argue that the harmless chemicals will rise up through time and contaminate the water from underneath. See these guys really are zero risk type people. I guess with all the deaths caused by fracking worldwide you can’t blame them……oh hold on a minute!
              I guess I’m just envious of their lifes. Clearly they don’t have phone masts, exhaust fumes, industrial chimneys, log burners, McDonalds (etc etc) where they live. Ah the good ol shire life.

            • Not legal to drill above fresh water aquifers?
              The British Isles are almost completely sitting on fresh water aquifers!!
              What do you think artesian springs are? Many are on ancient sacred springs, Glastonbury Sacred Well for example, the natural fresh water springs are across the entire country! Even The Bath baths were originally sacred health springs until a dirty Roman polluted the water with a nasty bug!
              Countless springs across the land.
              Very well, my next project is to detail every natural spring in the country, and match it to PEDL locations lets see if what you say is true, something tells me its so much frack water.
              Thanks for the heads up.

              [Typos corrected by Moderator at poster’s request.]

          • GottaBEkidding, had sad you are that you are ignorant of what is really going on. [Edited by moderator]
            Seriously, can not see the evidence that is unfolding right in front of your eyes and ears. Do you honestly buy the idea that we need this type of fuel for energy safety ? Please don’t tell me you’re naive. If you like many other who support this vile industry are, then God help us. In some respects it would be and advantage for an asteroid to wipe us out because why oh why do we want to live in a world [edited by moderator] where greed is good and damaging our precious resources is also good. Do humanity a favour and take your blinkers off and find some soul and leave the dark side. It’s not a good place to end up.

      • Brand away if it helps you feel better. You can even imagine me wearing Darth Vaders outfit standing on a pedestal at Customs just to complete your psychological image!
        I do quite like the term “snowflake” as it does sum you up in an instant…..fragile!

        • ‘I do quite like the term “snowflake” as it does sum you up in an instant…..fragile!’

          38 Degrees takes its name from the critical angle at which the incidence of a human-triggered avalanche is greatest.

          What’s fragile is the present state of the industry. 7 years of trying and nothing to show for it. Today’s pro frackers will be dead and buried long before any shale gas comes into production.

          They will enter old age still saying ‘this time next year’ ‘won’t be long now’ and ‘it’s just a matter of time’.

          World war 2 was fought and finished in less time than the UK shale gas industry has produced nothing.

          Come on guys admit it. 7 years of nothing is a lot more than fragile. It’s pathetic.

          • Oil exploration in the UK North Sea started in 1964 – first oil production was in 1975. Eleven years before commercial oil produced.

        • Wow! more peenyrants UGottaBonsomethingillegal!
          Love the name calling btw, lets see if I can do some name calling for you just for fun…..
          How about bottom feeding gas sucking grub frackers? Gaia raping sump sucking carbon flakes? lung crushing cancer peddling dumb drillers?
          Grunge grubbing shale shovelling gutter dwellers? Dumbass toxic peddling fossil fuel fidlers? Drill dropping dunce capped poison pumpers? Trump pumped puddle piddling gas guzzlers? Frack cracking ground crawling sod lifters? Truth denying democracy stealing lie peddlers? Freedom killing hope crushing planet polluters? Climate cracking breath stealing radon pushers?
          Or just plain dumb fracks.
          God I needed to say that.

            • [Comment edited by moderator]

              3rd floor haberdashery carpets and furnishings, poison posts, manic rants, egomania, corporate fantasy, going down….
              Gonna be a hard crash when you hit the basement, which is what the industry is finding in spite of victimising Tina in some sort of vindictive revenge fury, nasty boys get no sweets!
              Its the same message to your fracking industry employers, who must be looking at the fine print in your contract right now…..
              [Comment edited by moderator]
              Thirteenth floor, spaced out gas peddlers, vapour smoking pipe lovers, imaginary enemies, planet killing polluters, going up…….and up……and up…..

        • Not a good role model UGottaBObeyed, didn’t Darth Vader redeem himself in the last reel by killing the evil emperor and throwing down his own deep well? Quite appropriate maybe?
          Perhaps the alien role model would be more apposite, starts off by launching itself out of its egg and attaching itself to the face of its victim and planting its progeny deep in the chest of its host and after feeding off its host, then bursting out of the victims chest looking like a sock puppet and scoots off to grow into an oversized horror with acid for blood and an oversized head and multiple layers of jaws and a poison jawed tongue and excretes a convoluted bile cavern to hide in? A much more appropriate behaviour match.
          Oh, btw, steer clear of anyone called Ripley…..

  2. Ha, ha, ha, GBK or should I call you Mystic Meg. ???
    Once again giving us mere mortals a demonstration of your psychic powers. It’s amazing how you can see in to the future.

    Moving on, you say, quote, “misleading people with your nonsense of doom ”

    ARE THESE misleading the people ????

    Fracking Wastewater Is Cancer-Causing, New Study Confirms.

    http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/fracking-wastewater-cancer-causing-new-study-confirms-1

    ( Nobel Peace Prize Winners ) Physicians For Social Responsibility (PSR)

    To download their comprehensive report, fourth edition, 17 November 2016.

    Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking

    http://www.psr.org/resources/fracking-compendium.html

    IF THEY ARE, what do you intend to do about it ???

    • Jack
      I like the PSR document, but it will take a bit longer to get through. More later no doubt. No ambulance chasing or too much waffle in there. There are some examples of well known issues being flagged as uncontrolled, such as NORM, which is well controlled in the N.Sea. But maybe not in USA..onshore?
      Methane measurement is interesting, especially versus coal. Deep mined coal produces methane, up to 0.5% in the upcast shaft say. Opencast not as much if any as being so close to the surface it has already dissipated.

      Cheers

    • Jeez Jack give it a rest. You do realise the world is fraught with danger ? Literally everything and anything can be harmful to your health in certain doses. Take for example people such as yourself, listening to you used to harm my health when I took your type seriously, this increased my pulse rate and raised my blood pressure. Nowadays of course I am wiser and only get a small daily dose on DoD and usually for motivation.
      Your arguments just don’t stack up in the real world and I simply cannot be bothered explaining why as it’s tiresome and you won’t listen anyway.
      I suggest you don’t let my comments wind you up either as I already know everything you think I don’t.
      Let’s just look fwd to our HC date.

      • GBK
        Yes, but you have NEVER explained anything. That’s the problem.

        I put forward a very small part of my evidence and you go quiet.
        To now, simply say, you can not be bothered arguing your case, shows you have NO case to argue.

        The relentless stream of evidence from world leading organisations, all warning of the serious dangers of fracking is now becoming overwhelming

        Although I have an engineering background, I do not pretend to be an Oil an Gas expert. I’m just an ordinary person with a lot of questions which people like you are failing to answer.

        Again I ask, what do you have to say about the above four links, are they wrong ??
        If so, please forward your evidence.

        I’m not wound up, it would though appear when reading your comments that you are the one who needs to take a step back and chill out a bit. [Edited by moderator]

        • I’m very chilled thanks. Although I have woken with a sore tooth so possibly just possibly it’s been brought on by all this anti fracking chat.
          Jack you’re clearly not as bad as I thought you were so I’ll take your name down from the dart board.
          Why don’t you become the voice for the anti frackers and arrange a meeting with the industry? Go prepared with every single question you want answers to and allow the conversation to be recorded by independent journalists. This would do your side far more good than what you’re currently achieving and that’s me genuinely not trying to rile you up. Would you be interested in that?

      • Oh dear GTBK, you really do suck at putting forward a concise and robust argument for shale gas, you really are one of these people who are gullible in thinking that thwse companies are doing us all a favour. [Edited by moderator] This is a ponzy scheme and it thrives on gullible idiots [edited by moderator].

        • Steve I’m not trying to put fwd any argument. It’s a waste of my time. I merely come on here to get my anti fracking news. Ruth does a good job with the reporting even though it does have a bias towards anti but that’s ok.
          And portray me however you wish. We are simply equal keyboard bashers on here.

    • Jack
      The fracking injury law.com is an ambulance chasing outfit. They advise that, if you think your cancer has been caused by fracking, then fill in a form and contact them. What they say about radon is true, if you are exposed to it, over a threshold level, for a length of time. But they offer no information on assumed levels of Rafon you are likely to be exposed to, or indeed, what the levels are around a drilling site. I will read the other references you append as all information is good, but the Radon one is a bit dodgy. Bye the bye, Radon is discussed regularly at the regulator fracking forums in the U.K., so it’s not something that is surprised.

      • hewes62

        With your sweeping statement, branding the Fracking Injury Law.com as quote, “ambulance chasers” you have effectively branded every law firm in existence as ambulance chasers.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t ALL law firms work on the basis that if you “THINK” you have a legal case against someone . YOU contact them for advice or fill in a form.

        Isn’t that the way law firms work ?

        • Jack
          I can only comment on that particular law firm as they wrote that flyer. I cannot call all law firms as such as you would have to check them all out. The key point is, that advertising for business is not evidence that fracking has caused a problem. The term ‘ambulance chasing’ was coined to describe such flyers, and since deregulation over here they have certainly blossomed. I think they have a part to play. They have focussed on surgeon malpractice in the NHS for example. On the flip side they were behind the MMR debacle…and happy to chase ex Army chaps for fictitious damage. I may be biased, as, working in the coal industry it came as no surprise that law firms and ( not as expected) UDM officials lined their pockets at the expense of those who had a claim. Hence overt ambulance chasers are viewed with suspicion. However not all firms do this, and yetvprovide appropriate guidance advice and support to those who have suffered a Tort

          • hewes62,

            I take note of what you say.

            Yes I have to agree, in the past some law firms have operated in an unethical way , hence the term “ambulance chasers,”

            Leaving the victim with next to nothing whilst they line their pockets with enormous amounts of cash.

            In the UK, government and industry regulations have tightened up on this matter. As far as the US goes, I’m not in a knowledgeable position to comment, nor am I in a position to comment on this particular law firm as l have no inside knowledge on their business, core principles or ethics.

            I do though understand and accept some of the points you raise.

    • Jack
      The information re breast cancer against fracking has some interesting assertions. In the one pager on why one should be anti fracking it states

      ‘Fracking is associated with additional diseases and disorders ranging from respiratory illness and reproductive problems to cancers. Fracking … has caused rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illness, memory loss and other negative health effects’.

      This is a comprehensive list and is not borne out by peer reviewed literature that there is a causal link between fracking and all these maladies. Indeed this is almost a cut and paste from the Anti Smart Meter brigade, who have a similar list of ailments Americans have reported post meter Installation.

      For sure, if your water was polluted due to frack or other chemicals getting into your water supply, and you drank it, then you would get a health effect. There is no mystery in this as the residents of Flint can testify to, as can people I. Rural areas who enjoy various farm chemicals in their well water, as well as the odd dead rat or mouse.

      Below that. They maintain that exposure to methane results in dizziness, weakness, nausea and vomiting. The Coshh assessment for methane says it has low toxicity. Indeed miners, of which I was one, worked in a 0.5 to 1% atmosphere for many hours days and years without those affects. At much higher levels it is an axphixiant. The heavier ends of the gas stream are not so benign, but you need a suitable high exposure to be affected.

      The Information is very general and designed to scare people off fracking by saying, this industry uses.. produces this, it can cause cancer, therefore it will, and it has! It reads like the scare pamphlet it is.

      It does not constitute a peer reviewed scientific paper. Breast Cancer is a serious issue. Close relatives have been affected by it and or died, but I see nothing in the information to help people prevent it. Better information is on the UK NHS site.

      One to go!

      • hewes62,

        Referring to your comments regarding Breast Cancer Action, exactly how many pages would satisfy you, 2, 3, 5, 10 ?

        In limiting what they have said and just sticking to the core points, they have got their message accros to the ordinary members of the public.
        For ordinary members of the public, long encylopidia style, 500 page explanations on how, why and what they base their reports on would lose most people on the first page.

        Unlike me and you who hide behind their keyboards with anonymity, they are willing to put their names behind what they say.

        Although that being said, I do not pretend to have all the answers regarding fracking. I just put forward difficult questions ( with links) that have been raised by world leading organisations, headed by Professors and Doctors of medicine, science and engineering who all question the safety of fracking.

        I’m still waiting for some proper answers.

        Four still to go.

        • hewas62 and just to show that the above four links are not all that I base my concerns on. I will, over the next week add a couple more each day for you to study.

          I hope then you will be able to fully understand why ordinary members of public are rightly justified with their serious concerns regarding the safety of this industry.

        • Jack

          I think we have some common ground I. That evidence based studies are good. However was not impressed with the breast cancer flyer as it purports a link between fracking and a bucket load of maladies.

          To be credible it should stick to the knitting and say why they think breast cancer could be caused by fracking. Not throw the bath water at it. Then say how this happens, and with guidance on how to reduce risk other than ban fracking, which is not much use if you live over various shale beds in th USA.

          Other sites offer the same warnings, but note the chemicals involved, and the pathways..natural news is the site.

          But you have to be affected directly by a spill you contact, or drinking water contamination you drink, and then it is a factor in the many that could increase the risk of breast cancer, the largest one being genetics.
          The site notes that additional traffic and industrial activity cases a smog, which is harmful. Indeed Smog is harmful, so any increase in industrial activity, closure of coal fired power stations and so on is good. It’s not frack specific.

          What I have not found, is a study which shows increased breast cancer, male or female, in the oil and gas / fracking poulation. But it may be out there.

          Good studies have shown the link between testicular cancer and the rubber industry, coal dust and pneumoconiosis, silica and silicosis ( need to wear a dust mask and or have good Local Ventilation systems), and so on.

          Good to question the safety of fracking. It is not 100% safe, nothing is, but how safe is key i guess. Safety did not shut Kellingly and Thoresby, the low coal price did that.

          Look forwards to the other links

          Cheers

          • hewas62,
            I may of been a little hasty with my mildly aggresive stance towards you. You have made some interesting and balanced comments in your above post.

            There are a lot of prominent, world leading professors and doctors of medicine, science and engineering who all are increasingly warning us of the dangers associated with fracking.
            Taking note of this, It would be utter madness to proceed forward without further research.

            Although we may not agree on the pros and cons of fracking, our common ground may possibly be, that we both agree, that more research is required and a lot more questions answered before this industry is let loose in our densely populated areas.

            Please feel free to comment on my future posts and links.

  3. Just to say that the data this week from Carbon Brief indicates that carbon emissions in the UK have fallen by a third since 1990. This is because coal has been crushed by the carbon price and by the rise of renewables combined with the increased use of gas as a back-up fuel (for when the sun doesn’t shine etc). So renewables and gas working in union. Let’s all hug. Coal is being kept in the ground.

    Alongside this has been a significant drop in urban air pollution, not withstanding the recent London smog possibly coming from a combination of diesel fuels and wood-burners. Less pollution equals thousands less deaths from respiratory diseases – remember that the coal induced London smogs of the 1950’s killed around 10,000 people. Hopefully one result of the shale gas revolution worldwide might be the widespread use of less polluting compressed natural gas powered vehicles especially in public transport and haulage where there is a need for higher mileages than can be sustained by current battery technology.

    So Gotta kidding is right of course, there is no risk free industry, it’s a matter of risk versus benefit and to me the benefits of onshore shale gas, health and otherwise, will far outweigh the risks.

    • 2016 Lowest level of CO2 emissions since the 19th Century apparently. But not because of renewables. Revewables electrcity output was flat 2015 – 2016. In fact wind was down in 2016 vs 2015 despite all the extra installed capacity. The big change is coal down and gas up. This can easily be seen in the graph in the following Guardian article:

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/06/uk-wind-power-coal-green-groups-carbon-taxes

      Don’t bother with the Guardian spin, just look at the graph which tells it all…

      Gas continues to be essential for most of our heating.

  4. I was of the understanding that the police had publicly amended their original statement about the 25 th Feb protest. They clarified there were no violent protests on that day. So where and how has that information changed ? Did the police give evidence?
    It’s such a shame that in this culture of lies facilitated from the top with the government/mainstream media lying regularly we cannot just trust the truth is enough and will stay the truth!

    Reading these comments from the pro frackers on here and elsewhere makes me cringe. Such vitriol. I usually don’t post because of it.
    However, I am entitled to speak my thoughts as much as anyone else.

    Personally I follow the facts – like the gentleman who posted the links to the peer reviewed scientific evidence – which clearly is not saying fracking is the wonder answer to all our future potential energy problems. It depends what you feel is more important and if ‘sacrifice zones’ are acceptable. If those ‘sacrifice zones’ include putting the health of local people at risk – that’s not acceptable to me, and it shouldn’t be to the government either!

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