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 »

    • Interesting, a social protest gagging order, standard practice for the most litigious industry on the planet.
      How long before speaking out against the o$€¥£&g environmental desecration and any aspect of the anti life activities of the o€$¥£&g invader becomes an illegal act?
      Perhaps a counter injunction is required to prevent Ineos et al from breaking every existing planning and highway and pollution regulations?
      Or is it one rule for them and another for everyone else?
      Ineos have just lost any support whatsoever from people who will find ourselves, once more, powerless to protest and protect against the destruction of our communities, our health, our clean water, our clean air, our land, and our very country in which we live.
      Dunkirk spirit becomes more vital every day, especially when the invader is all ready squatting inside our countryside and is protected by our own corrupt government.
      This is a fundamental attack on our freedom. The trenches are being dug as we watch, literally.
      Welcome to the legal razor wire cages of the o€$¥£&g invader, but dont complain! Ineos just shoved its sticky fingers down the throat of every person in England.
      Oh yes, the price of gas is going up by 12.5% from mid September, in spite of the wholesale price being lower.
      So much for cheap gas, now you see the truth of the matter.

      • British Gas will increase electricity prices by 12.5% from 15 September, its owner Centrica has said, in a move that will affect 3.1 million customers.

        “We have seen our wholesale costs fall by about £36 on the typical bill since the beginning of 2014 and that is not the driver. It is transmission and distribution of electricity to the home and government policy costs that are driving our price increase.”

        Read “green, renewables” as the cause (electricity not gas, please get it right).

        • I was just on my way out of the door as i heard British Gas, and 12.5% increase, just got back. Thanks, but in effect it doesn’t matter, electricity or gas, Any energy increase of 12.5% is inflationary and is government policy, this is what will happen now to gas as well as electricity is needed for production and distribution.
          The result may be to demonise renewables in the eye of the public
          for the price increase, just a scam really. Never underestimate the convolutions of government and the energy producers.
          And what moves are being made to transition to renewables apart from vague promises? Tax increases on solar? Removal of funding for wind generation? Rubbish isn’t it?
          This government has increased borrowing by 70%, £1.7 trillion, about £17 trillion all in, that, is what we are paying for, not only non renewable, but non sustainable. Sheer con game
          Its inflationary, it will increase production cost and that, as always, will be passed directly to the tax payer. Once more the tax payer takes the hit and every business will just pass the costs on, result more energy poverty, old people freezing and starving.
          Way to go May.
          That little diversion out of the way now? What about addessing everything else I posted?
          Or was that all you could muster?

    • The law is the law. It does not get changed by one judge. The police will be guided as to what is and what is not the law as it stands at present.

      No police force will act on an injunction until they clarify the facts.

      Not to complicated to get a judge to say people are not allowed to carry out unlawful activities as that is against the law.

      I don’t know why Ineos are so scared. It is only tens of thousands of the UK public who have said they will not be accepting this industry.

      The fact that the majority of the population oppose this industry does not interfere with allowing Ineos to express their opinions and their rights of freedom of speech.

      The hard push by the industry continues to backfire and produce more community resistance.

      ‘Many fleas make big dog itch’

      • “The majority of the population oppose this industry”…..someone’s telling porkies again.
        The majority of the population ie 99% don’t give a monkeys about fracking or they openly support it.
        You’ll soon find your anti campaign to be over the moment there is no earthquake or pollution of water.

        • ‘You’ll soon find your anti campaign to be over the moment there is no earthquake or pollution of water’

          Just like to apply your statement to 2010 when the first fracking application was passed and they were free to get to work.

          Looks a tad silly since the Preese Hall earthquakes and 7 years of no gas through well organised community resistance.

          Preese Hall really did happen you know. Honest.

          • Even if, and thats still an if, as nothing was 100% conclusive the minor tremor was caused by fracking then lessons have been learnt and processes have moved fwd so there will not be a repeat. John, this country is tiny in size in comparison to the US, any major issues arising from fracking will be noticed immediately. I appreciate there has been nothing happening over the past few years but as you can clearly see there is activity building once again.

  1. The only opponent to be found is Ian R Crane? Same guy who thinks jet trails are secret program by hidden alien government to control populatiion? Thinks 9/11 was a plot etc etc etc? Puhleeze.

    What do Friends of the Earth think? Or the nameless Reclaim the Power crew who so desperately wanted to save the planet that they spent all July at PNR? No accident surely RTP take August offf. They still like to go on holiday with Mum and Dad.

    It will be interesting to see who exactly are the defendants. Mike Hill? The IET themselves? Nanas?

    • So you don’t know what a controlled demolition looks like . Mr Crane is one of many with these opinions .To quote David Icke ” To be called mad by an idiot is a compliment ” .

    • Still Crane surfing Nick? Or would you prefer Nana surfing? Just watch out for those knitting needles! Ouch!

  2. How many times have I said Ineos are a different kettle of fish? Brilliant news and this is how it’s going to be from now on.
    The antis are a bunch of rag tags with a vastly overrated level of reach through unregulated social media and environmentalist websites. They literally seek to promote foreign energy and all its risks with their only comeback being unicorns and fairy dust in the form of renewables.
    Let’s see FoE scramble to collect their pennies to fight back. Our wallet is colossal in comparison.

    • Haha, INEOS aren’t a foreign energy company? [Edited by moderator] Follow the money – all the way to China (via Switzerland). The profits from the industrial rape of the British countryside are being siphoned offshore quicker than you can say ‘tax haven’.

    • Money worries as fracking companies struggle to get financial backing.

      https://www.ecowatch.com/fracking-uk-2459312819.html

      No wonder with UKOOG stating

      ‘There are varying reports on how the UK shale extraction cost will compare to the US, with some commentators predicting the difference as high as three times more expensive in the UK’

      The small speculators will be getting fed up of giving to the big investors and company directors.

      Deep pockets with nothing in them.

      Seven years and not a whiff of dangerous, expensive, UK shale gas.

      I must check if it is illegal to knowingly operate a Ponzi scheme

  3. Good stuff. Someone has to take a stand against the mobs. Legal businesses and people rights to make a ligit living can’t be allowed to be dictated by these unlawful and costly obstructive behaviours.

  4. It was through slow walking that protectors at Brockham were allowed to photograph drill pipes arriving at the site whilst Angus Energy were saying they were not drilling. Lo and behold Angs were drilling, against the council’s advice and whilst misleading the council who were making enquiries as work was underway. The picture of the pipes is a symbol of juts how perfidious and contemptuous the attitude and behaviour of these firms can be towards the locals. It would not have been taken without slow walking.

  5. Ineos and any other frackers need to get their heads around the fact that injunctions or not, what they are doing is a severe threat to the health and wellbeing of the entire country.
    They will be opposed every step of the way because what they are doing is irresponsible and anti-social behaviour.

  6. I think that this injunction would even force this website to become more balanced. Otherwise they will also be subject to it.

    The intellects filming all the criminal acts, and live streaming them. You couldn’t make it up. It has been most helpful. Adding to that their verbal comments… again, most helpful.

    [Edited by moderator] have a conversation with Cuadrilla, Ineos or Igas. If you have an open mind and some intellect, you may understand they are not here for giving you cancer or poisoning your water; neither is the government.

    • No they are here to make money and then leave us with the bill for clean up, which may not even be possible. If they also leave us with soaring NHS bills to treat the people made ill by it, they will niether know nor care as long as they get their money.

    • “I think that this injunction would even force this website to become more balanced. Otherwise they will also be subject to it.”
      There you have it, a gagging order, a clear and stated intent to censor debate on drill or drop.
      Its either downhill or uphill from here on,
      The fractivists have just declared war on open debate.
      When we look back and wonder how we fell to a devastated police state, freezing and starving, just for saying NO! While the fat cats lounge by the pool in their razor wired off tax haven mansions, we can look at these events and say “that’s where the anti democratic rot became stated publicly for all to see”
      Its what the fractivists always wanted, a censorship weapon of mass deception to wage war against drill or drop and us all.

  7. Good to hear a company such as ineos have gathered enough credibility to retaliate in the correct manner to the dim witt no job too much time on there hands hipicritical idiots…

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