Legal

INEOS takes out “national” High Court injunction against anti-fracking protesters

pnr 170727 Ros Wills5

“Lorry surfing” protests at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 27 July 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

The largest shale gas exploration company in the UK was granted an interim injunction this afternoon against anti-fracking protesters.

The order issued by Mr Justice Morgan at the High Court in London, seeks to prevent obstruction or interference in INEOS Shale activities.

It covers eight named locations, including two proposed shale gas sites in Derbyshire and Rotherham, as well as company offices and property belonging to site landowners.

It also applies more widely than injunctions sought by previous oil and gas companies by covering routes to the proposed exploration sites and to activities undertaken by INEOS employees and members of its supply chain. This includes any depot, equipment, people and operations.

Blockades of the Marriott Drilling depot in Derbyshire are covered by the injunction, INEOS confirmed.

According to a notice on the company’s website, anyone who breaches the order by “interfering with lawful activities” would be “held in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have your assets seized”.

INEOS Shale’s operations director, Tom Pickering, said:

“At INEOS we will not stand for intimidation, threats or risks to safety. Today’s High Court Injunctions will protect our sites, our people, our suppliers and the public from the militant activists who try to game the system and cause maximum disruption.”

The judge will decide on the duration of the injunction but Tom Pickering said

 “We will seek it for as long as we consider there to be a risk that we need to demonstrate that we’ve thought through in a safety sense.”

He said the company would seek injunctions for any future sites where it applied for planning permission if it had evidence of risk.

Mr Pickering said the injunction sought to address what he called “a blurring of the boundaries between unlawful and lawful protest”.

It coincided with the final day of a month of direct action protests at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool. The coordinator, Reclaim the Power, said today there had been disruptive action every working day in July. More than 70 people had been arrested and mass demonstrations had taken place every Friday.

pnr 170731 Reclaim the power

Lock-on protest, Preston New Road, 31 July 2017. Photo: Reclaim the Power

Mr Pickering said:

“All this injunction does is serve to reinforce what is unlawful. People have the same rights today with the injunction in place as they did yesterday. It doesn’t affect the peaceful right to protest.”

But the injunction specifically outlaws so-called slow walking, where protesters attempt to delay delivery vehicles. This has been ruled as a lawful form of protest by some district judges at trials of people arrested at protests at Balcombe in West Sussex and Brockham in Surrey.

It significantly increases the risk of protesting against fracking. The maximum penalty for obstructing the highway is a £1,000 fine, although most people who are found guilty are given a conditional discharge. The maximum penalty for contempt of court is two years in prison. INEOS said it would also be entitled to seek to recover damages from any individual breaching the injunction.

The notice also applies to:

“Any other person who knows of this order and does anything which helps or permits the defendants or any of them to breach the terms of this order.”

INEOS said this would mean anyone who promoted a protest knowing the injunction would be breached.

The order will remain in force until a High Court hearing on 12 September, when there is an opportunity for a challenge.

Anti-fracking campaigner, Ian Crane, said:

“This is an act of desperation and is evidence of the INEOS attitude towards legitimate dissent.

The company has raised the stakes and effectively sought a national injunction in an attempt to quell protest.

“It will undoubtedly be challenge in courts – but INEOS have very deep pockets.”

Previous injunctions have been challenged by anti-fracking campaigners but most challenges have failed and costs were awarded against named defendants in previous unsuccessful challenges to injunctions.

Horse Hill Protests

Slow-walking protest at Horse Hill in Surrey. Photo: David Burr

Details

The notice on the company’s website says the injunction prohibits actions which intend to obstruct, impede or interfere with activities of the company, its affiliates, agents, servants, contractors, sub-contractors, group companies, licensees, employees, partners and consultants. It specifically mentions:

  • ·         Conduct amounting to harassment
  • ·         Behaviour amounting to an offence under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
  • ·         Criminal damage or theft
  • ·         Obstructing the free passage along a highway, including but not limited to slow walking and attaching to any vehicles or objects, known as lock-ons
  • ·         Interference with a vehicle or traffic equipment

A statement from the company said the injunction also covered trespass onto INEOS shale sites and relevant office locations.

INEOS said it had presented evidence to the judge of what it called “dangerous direct action” at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, as well as at Balcombe, Leith Hill in Surrey, Daneshill in Nottinghamshire, Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire and Upton in Cheshire.

Tom Pickering said:

“Our sites are potentially hazardous for anyone without proper training, so we have a duty to prevent trespassers.

“We safety train our people to avoid the very hazards that militants and protestors naively expose themselves to. For instance, standing in front of a moving lorry whose driver may not be able to see you is dangerous. Blocking roads to all traffic including emergency vehicles is dangerous. Diverting police resources away from local policing is dangerous.

“Applying to the court was the right and responsible thing to do.”

Mr Pickering said he assumed that direct action protests that had occurred at other sites would also happen at INEOS’s proposed operations.

The company is currently carrying out seismic surveying in the East Midlands and is applying for planning permission for sites at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane, Derbyshire, and at Common Road, Harthill, in Rotherham.

He said:

“There has been a slow escalating impact on our people and our suppliers and this is a solution which we can seek to make those boundaries a bit more clear about what is acceptable peaceful protest and what is unlawful that we would act upon.”

He said people carrying out seismic surveys had been shouted at and cars had been blockaded or delayed. He also there had been damage and theft of equipment and damage to private land. INEOS had been affected by lock-on protests and slow walking at the Marriott Drilling depot in Derbyshire, which supplies equipment to the oil and gas industry.

Asked what would be tolerated under the injunction, he said:

“Peaceful protest with placard and making opinion and feeling on the issue known is accepted. It is simply the unlawful act of obstructing the highway, impeding a vehicle, putting at risk themselves or other people by the actions. It is those acts that are already unlawful it is those that this injunction seeks to reinforce.”

Asked to define militant activist, Mr Pickering said:

“Consistent and escalating uncontrolled unlawful activity where you see things result in theft, damage, intimidation of individual, shouting, occupation of private land.”

Data released by Lancashire Police for the six months from January to June shows that 42% of arrests at Preston New Road were for obstructing the highway.  Out of 182 arrests, there were four for criminal damage, two for breach of the peace, one for theft and two for threatening and abusive behaviour. Many of the cases have yet to be tried and many of the people involved have pleaded not guilty.

DrillOrDrop asked if the injunction meant INEOS had given up on trying to persuade local communities to accept fracking, Mr Pickering said:

“Not at all, we will continue with our community engagement as we consider it very important in explaining our business and the approach we take to managing risk.

“We have been subject to protestor action, including slow walking, the purpose of which was solely to interfere with our lawful activities.

“The High Court Judge has ruled that is unlawful. The injunction does not prevent any peaceful right of protest, or protestors from expressing their opinions and enjoying their human rights to the full.”

  • ·         The details of the named locations are available to people who register with INEOS’s solicitors, Fieldfisher LLP. INEOS said “they are a mix of operational sites and offices and the details would become obvious in a few days”.
  • ·         DrillOrDrop will collate other reaction to the injunction as it becomes available.

 

113 replies »

  1. Well done INEOS. People have a right to peaceful protest, but not obstruction, intimidation, vandalism, trespass or any other actions that stop people going about their lawful business which the protestors object to.

    • And the key phrase here is: ‘People have a right to peaceful protest’ Article 11 Human Rights Act 1998.

      ‘There may be interference with the right to protest if the authorities prevent a demonstration from going ahead; halt a demonstration; take steps in advance of a demonstration in order to disrupt it; and store personal information on people because of their involvement in a demonstration.

      The right to peaceful assembly cannot be interfered with merely because there is disagreement with the views of the protesters or because it is likely to be inconvenient and cause a nuisance or there might be tension and heated exchange between opposing groups.’

      https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/what-are-human-rights/human-rights-act/article-11-right-protest-and-freedom-association

      • Yes protest as much as you want and you have that right but stay off the road and stop climbing on other people truck because they are not your property.

        • The ALL GREAT AND POWERFUL LORD INEOF stoops from on SWISS and CHINA HIGH to inject and proclaim the sacred INJUNKTION and his lesser prophet climbs down from the lofty depths and deigns to pronounce:
          THE LAW OF THE SACRED BOOK OF INEOF THE GREAT AND ALL POWERFUL ALMIGHTY DESPOILER OF EARTH AIR WATER AND SKY to the mere mortals below:
          LAW ONE: THOU SHALT NOT CLIMB AND SURF THE FORBIDDEN HEIGHTS OF THE SACRED HGV FOR THEY ARE NOT FOR MERE MORTALS!
          LAW2: THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK FREELY OF SACRED DESECRATION OF EARTH AIR WATER AND SKY FOR WHICH THOU ART NOT WORTHY!
          LAW3: THOU SHALT REFRAIN FROM WALKING SLOWLY IN FRONT OF THE SACRED HGV ON PAIN OF CONFISCATION OF YOUR ETERNAL FREEDOM AND BE BANNED TO THE NORTHERN SACRIFICIAL WASTELAND!
          LAW4: THOU SHALT OBEY THE LORD THY INEOF IN ALL THINGS!
          LAW5: THOU SHALT SUFFER THE DESECRATION AND POLLUTION OF THY LAND THY AIR THY WATER AND THY HEALTH WILLINGLY AND BE GRATEFUL AND PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE!
          LAW6: THOU SHALT PAY ALL THY MONEY AS TRIBUTE FOR THY HEATING AND ENERGY POVERTY TO WHICH THY ARE ETERNALLY CONFINED OR SUFFER FREEZING OF YOUR OLD AND YOUNG IN NUCLEAR WINTER!
          LAW7: THOU SHALT NOT DOUBT OR QUESTION THE LORD THY INEOF OR SUFFER VIOLENCE AND INCARCERATION AND SUFFER CONFISCATION OF ALL THY WORLDLY GOODS AND CHATTELS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THY MISERABLE LIFE!
          LAW8: THOU SHALT LOVE THE ONE AND ONLY GREAT AND POWERFUL LORD INEOF OR SUFFER HIS ETERNAL DISPLEASURE AND SUFFER INCARCERATION PUNISHMENT AND CONFISCATION OF ALL THY WORLDLY GOODS AND CHATTELS FOR THE REMAINDER OF YOUR SHORT AND MISERABLE LIFE!
          LAW9: THOU SHALT REFRAIN FROM POSTING BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE LORD THY INEOF ON PAIN OF ETERNAL CENSORSHIP AND BANISHMENT FOR THY PUNISHMENT TO BLAGGING FRACKING!
          LAW10: THOU SHALT NOT THINK FOR THYSELF AND WILLINGLY SUFFER ONLY THE SACRED WORD OF THE GREAT AND ALL POWERFUL LORD INEOF THROUGH HIS BRAINWASHED PROPHETS WHO WILL SUBJECT THOU TO ETERNAL PERSONAL ABUSE FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!
          LAW11: THOU SHALT PRAY TO THE GREAT ONE AND ONLY LORD INEOF, TIRD GENERGY, GODRILLA AND MANGLEUS FOR THY SALVATION AND PAY ETERNAL TRIBUTE FOR THE PRIVILEGE.
          LAW12: THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE AND ALL ITS GOODS CHATTELS AND FOSSIL FUEL RESOURCES ARE HERBY NOTIFIED TO BE THE ETERNAL PROPERTY OF THE GREAT AND ALL POWERFUL LORD INEOF AND ALL HIS SACRED PROPHETS ACOLYTES AND BRAINWASHED SERVANTS.

        • If this is about ‘ownership’, TW, perhaps you should look to the rights of the ‘owners’ of property that will be affected by this industry?

          If it is about ‘freedom’ to go about one’s lawful business, then again let’s look at the reduced ‘freedoms’ of existing residents and their families that will ensue as a result of these activities…

          Riding roughshod over people is not the answer. Common sense will tell you that.

      • I’m sure the locals will be pleased if the roads aren’t blocked by protestors, and the police will be glad they can do something about protestors continuously hurling abuse at them. Win, win for all law abiding citizens. About time too.

    • People have a right to the truth from any intrusive Industry.

      This is was on Cuadrillas website for many months referring to the Becconsall well

      “In accordance with the planning consent well plugging and site restoration work WILL be carried out after the wintering bird’s season, ending 31st March 2016 and BEFORE THE DEADLINE SET BY LANCASHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL OF 31st OCTOBER 2016”

      No work at all was carried out in 2016. If the company cannot afford to carry out it’s proposals it should have it’s licence removed.

      Cuadrilla also had plans passed stating they required a 42dB noise level. After the application was passed they ask for a condition change to 55dB.

      The reason given was that they could not work within the confines of the levels that they themselves had originally requested.

      If they do not know their own operating requirements they should not be allowed anywhere near peoples homes.

      A company who is allowed to go about it’s lawful business should not mislead communities and not propose work limits that it cannot possibly adhere to.

      Avoiding Environmental Impact assessments by keeping a site to 0.99 hectare when EIA is compulsory at 1 hectare may not be illegal but it certainly explains why no one will ever trust this industry to be a neighbour.

  2. Well, first little salvo from Ineos and the screeching can be heard from a long way off!

    What it has highlighted already is the ignorance of many of the antis posting on this site. They have had a long time to prepare for this stage of the “project” and appear totally unprepared and regurgitate the incoherent and incorrect nonsense that has become the norm. Must do better.

    Appears to be a much higher proportion of such posters than I expected who are only posting to excite, or incite, others without much understanding themselves. If some, as per some other sites, are being “rewarded” to do it, they really must do better. It may have escaped their notice, but most of the population is not against fracking, so screeching to the converted may be all they can do but it shows they have not identified the correct target audience. That target audience will react to hard facts, which they might now receive from those companies exploring in UK who could generate such facts over the coming year, which the antis are desperate to block out with the screeching. I wonder why?

    • I presume you don’t “live” anywhere near where the “fracking” is going on, neither does your water supply?? And I also presume none of your family members do either ??

      • Do you extract your water from a private well / borehole (which will of course have been drilled into the water table)? The large majority of us get our water from the mains, which has a lot more thrown at it than a few (disclosed) fracking chemicals…

        For instance, do you (and readers) not wash bleach, oven cleaner and/or any other harsh chemicals down the sink/drain that the water companies have to treat before you can drink it again? Seem like a non-issue to me.

          • Pointing fingers again? Do we really have to go over and over the same old ground time and time again?
            Two wrongs do not make a right, the ends never justify the means!
            One ignorant bunch of polluters do not make it right for another bunch of ignorant polluters to do a thousand times worse!!
            Done that! Burned the tee shirt! Moving swiftly on!

        • Martyn Collier: I have a “whole house filter” that filters ALL the council water into my home and organic garden.
          I don’t use Bleach, washing powders [use magnets], I only use pure castile soaps. My farm is totally organic as are the alpacas I breed.
          No sprays at all are used … and neither my animals or I have any health issues. My food is not processed or from chemically grown sources. Anything else you care to accuse me of that is “accepting” of your argument for “fracking”?
          Have you not seen the strife and devastating health issues animals and humans are facing in America where fracking is widespread?
          If no one stands up to the industry that is “FOSSIL” in EVERY way – just who do you think will drive change? Or do you expect your children and grandchildren to die because you were asleep to the mesmerism of the particular ‘money-god’ you worship? Wake up Laddie, this is NOT what man was designed for = it is slavery and colonialism highly refined. Big money took my country away from me, my children are scattered to the 4 corners of the Globe due to “moneyed” interests taking our country and home away from us. Military Industrial Complex DEPENDS on finding as much oil as it can to drive this so-called 3rd world war they are so frantic to create in order to bring about NWO … do you really want that? Your choice is crucial to mankind, our animals and the Planet.

          • A perfect answer Marian, I thoroughly agree with everything you say, too long we have been asleep accepting this slave system of Big Brother knows best dont you worry your little heads about it, and handing over our personal responsibility to the planet and everyone, and everything on it to a bunch of self serving greedy little profit cultists. People who think George Orwell’s 1984 was a history book?
            The desecration must stop, it might as well be here as anywhere. This is why this present struggle for our country and our future has become so important at this time, it represents whether we have become willing dumbed down slaves to a poisonous hateful exploitative system, or that we are still capable of standing on our own two feet, on the earths clean land, breathing the earths clean air.
            We said No! Poisonous desecration and Exploitation of this country stops here.

    • ‘but most of the population is not against fracking’ data please; lets stick to the facts and not supposition MC.

      The fact is the injunction is weak. It is about compensation; civil law.
      Personally I think they have shot themselves in the foot. It will not change anything. The PR that will accompany this could horribly backfire.

      As for the kettle calling the pan black…….

  3. If you can not read the statistics (facts) that are posted on this site from the official government survey that is not my problem, Sherwulfe. I believe the next one is due shortly, but my recollection from the last one was that the majority, by some margin, either actively supported fracking, or had no opinion either way.
    Maybe your view not incoherent, but certainly incorrect, as was your understanding regarding Ineos structure.

    Supposition appears to be commonplace but pretty one sided.

    By the way, the “PR” I have seen, to date, within the media looks pretty positive. Appears some like the idea of a company being able to go about it’s lawful business, especially as British Gas announces a rise in their prices, and winter not far off, and with Bob Dudley stating American shale was now “a swing producer that responds very quickly to price signals” and this would be “a natural dampener” on prices.

    Facts.

  4. Sorry Sherwulfe, English is obviously not your first language. Suggest you ask someone to read my post to you at bedtime. “most of the population is not against fracking” is the phrase they need to explain, which includes those who do support it and those who have no opinion either way. The third category will be those who do not support fracking. Shouldn’t be too difficult to understand. I suspect you have not commissioned such market research, I have, so I certainly need no clarification.

    Perhaps bedtime is not the right time, could bring on bad dreams.

  5. BP and others may not realise it yet but oil and gas especially oil may become stranded asset with the current hype of electric vehicle trends.

    • TW. I think that they already know. Some energy companies are already moving away from new investment in oil and gas and into renewables, Dong Energy is one extreme case. Business will follow the money. As renewable generation becomes cheaper, then energy companies will invest. It takes a few rare souls to take up the gauntlet and develop the technologies, then, when viable all will jump on the bandwagon.

      The hype about electric cars right now is flawed. It is pointless to charge up batteries using fossil fuel generation, you may as well use it direct. On top of that the carbon cost of producing new cars escalates the problem. I am told the carbon cost of manufacturing a car is higher than fuel used in its lifetime? – but don’t quote me on that 🙂

      However, an interesting solution put forward recently is that charging up electric cars overnight would be a good use of the surplus power generated by renewables at night. This I can see as a possibility.

      In the future I hope our mindset will be different. We will expect less (energy dependent things) and enjoy more (human interaction).

  6. TW-electric or hydrogen fuelled cars will depend on gas to generate that electricity, or hydrogen, for some time to come.

    Other energy companies continue to invest in oil and gas. BP is targeting capital expenditure of $15-$17 billion per year until 2021. Of course, not all on oil and gas, but the majority will be.

    Looks like the bandwagon will be driven from fossil fuel for some time to come.

    • Nonsense, we can all ready generate HHO by simple electrolysis, combine that with bio gas or north sea gas or synthetic fuel made from carbon waste or sea water. Look at synthetic jet fuel, easily applicable to conventional engine fuel, until we no longer need to combust anything. Ten, twenty years at the most, use up the present extracted reserves, recycle existing fuels, bio fuels and hydrogen alternatives.
      No need to carve up our precious communities and pollute the hell out of the environment, on a graph that would be -x, -y, -z, better +x, +y, +z.
      Easy peasy proppant squeezy.
      Job done, move on to more important things like clean up the planet after the last two hundred years of pointless pollution, that should take about the next two hundred years, where then? The universe is our oyster
      Simples!

      [Comment edited at poster’s request]

      • Generating Hydrogen gas from water by electrolysis is energy intensive. But the main problem is the scale up to industrial scale of hydrogen production by electrolysis to provide base load electricity generation.

        • Not sure hydrogen production by electrolysis to provide base load electricity generation is the way forward?

          It would be prudent TW perhaps to bring in here the argument for level of consumption.

          It is not a right to have constant power, no actual right to energy per se. Expectations since electricity generation from coal have risen, but do we really need this 24/7 or can we adapt? We didn’t have it before and managed very well – might get a better nights sleep; does wonders for your well being. Interestingly countries that have so called power outages have learned to adapt quicker than the sloppy west.

          We have too many gadgets that distract us from real life and responsibilities; time to be human again and interact in real time and not over the digital highways? True night and day anyone?

  7. Ballsy, Mr Collyer? Read: A multi-national, multi billion pound company using the courts to beat up on communities who don’t want to be annexed into Ratcliffe’s toxic ‘Empire of Trash.’
    The approach Ineos have taken with local people can hardly be described as engagement, more like imposition. So lost are they in their corporate mindset, they have totally underestimated the intelligence, integrity and determination of ordinary people. They do so at their peril. I can’t imagine they thought they would have to play the injunction card quite so early in the game.
    You say there is zero respect for Ineos from the ‘antis’. That is an over estimate. Ineos [edited by moderator] are despised by the people they are imposing themselves on, and not without good reason.
    Ineos’ claims to engage in ‘open and honest communication’ with communities are about as genuine as their claims of ‘excellent’ safety records. Communities are only informed of their intentions after the shady deals have been done with local landowners and screening applications submitted. Their dealings with public bodies, including Notts County Council were only revealed via FOI requests. In January, Ineos claimed to have no intention of fracking under Sherwood Forest, but when pressed by determined residents, Pickering let slip [edited by moderator] at a community meeting in Edwinstowe six months later. Landowners have been coerced and bullied into allowing access for surveys with the threat of legal action; local residents have been harassed and photographed by seismic crews whilst using public rights of way. Mr Collyer, you would do very well to remember that respect is a two way street.
    This bullying attitude is in line with the socio-economic impacts of fracking conveniently omitted by Public Health England in their 2013 report, to which a discredited government are still desperately clinging to in order to justify this insidious scam. A report which, by the way was described as a ‘leap of faith without scientific foundation’ by the BMJ. But then, being one of Ratcliffe’s acolytes, you will no doubt dismiss this as just ‘hearsay and scaremongering.’
    Take the example of the couple in I met Marsh Lane Village Hall in January, who had just been to the Ineos road show; He still in his working trousers and hi viz, she nearly in tears. ‘They can’t give me one straight answer’ he said. After a broken conversation, I realised that they were both in a state of emotional shock. Yes they were local, the house they had spent the last 20 years working for had been put on the market a few weeks before the shale cowboys decided to circle the wagons 400 yards from their back door. Their estate agent subsequently informed them that their house was now virtually unsellable. This is just one result of Pickering et al getting up and going to work in the morning to do Ratcliffe’s bidding. Repeat this scenario for the 50 odd well pads that Ineos intend to build between Sheffield and Mansfield, with 40 wells on each. What price will be borne by such people’s employers, when they turn up sleep deprived due to the 24hr drilling operations? What do you suggest these people do? Ask the newsagent for 8 hours sleep along with their paper and Polo mints on their way in to work? Get real. Add to that the toxic fumes vented from the wells as witnessed at West Newton and Horsehill, the thousands of HGV movements with diesel fumes to boot, polluting & disrupting communities, lives and livelihoods. What price your shale boom now?
    These are who your ‘antis’ are Mr Collyer; local people, growing in number, awareness and strength, accompanied by local councillors and being increasingly supported by local and national businesses. If you actually came out from behind your keyboard to meet these people, you would soon realise why they are fighting. That is, if you have the balls.

  8. And again the a blurring of the lines between “right ” and “legal”. The nuremburg laws enshrined the right of the state to racial discrimination and the people grew to accept it as “right”.
    Right and le gal are not the same thing.

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