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. Interesting reaction!

    Anyone would think the antis were unprepared for Cuadrilla rig being delivered, and now this action by Ineos. Just a load of screeching in response.
    Used up the fake news, poor science and scaremongering too early, me thinks.

    They still have not got it. Ineos are a major contributor to the UK economy and the public services, compared to other exploration companies. They will demand that they are able to go about their lawful business and will use the means at their disposal to do so. Kicking cans down the road and fudge will no longer be the option for the “authorities”.

    There has been zero respect by the antis for any company who tried the engagement approach, with July being a clear example, so hardly a shock.

    • The law is the law until it is changed. One judge, many people. People change the law when it no longer works. Sadly, we have at the moment a government bought by business who do not represent human need, only human greed – the love of money….

      But I will let you into a little secret. People will not go away. They are not ‘ordinary’ or indeed of a ‘class’. People of the planet are standing up against injustice and making a positive difference. A small stream will turn into a mighty river. The push and pull will continue, but this little caper will not stop those who have conviction in what is right and just. It’s how the world is changed for the better 🙂

  2. All I can say is INEOS is ballsy and good on yhem to stand up for their employees and businesses contractors. Cuadrilla does look like a bit whimsy in the face of the mobs.

  3. If people protestors in a law abiding way there would not have been a need for INEOS to take out an injunction.

        • Rubbish peeny, you reveal yourself again. No one really understood what “shale”gas extraction really meant, much as no one really understood what DDT or PCB’s or nuclear radiation meant until it was too late. That was never explained, as usual we didn’t get to find out the truth from the tory manifesto, until we looked at the “fracking” activity in other countries such as Australia, USA, Canada and elsewhere. Suddenly we saw it wasn’t “shale” that was the operative word, but that it was “fracking” quite a different kettle of rotting fish.
          It was only then that the inconvenient fracking truth was realised. And we don’t want it, and we will not have it. We protect life, fracking destroys life.
          The tory manifesto didn’t mention any of that! Oh no! Nothing so honest would escape that little fabrication document.
          The tory manifesto hardly mentioned the reality behind the process, the carving up of the country, the pollution, the accompanying police state and moves to crush democracy. Oh no, just all sweetness and light wasn’t it”
          Now we know peeny, it is peeny isn’t it!
          We said No! No! means No!
          Censor that!

          • Give it a rest with the false preaching. And stop telling people they are too stupid to have understood what shale entailed.

            • Did SafetyCatch spoil your little false tory illusion propaganda game again peeny?
              Give it a rest indeed! And stop telling us we are too stupid to have understood what shale extraction and fracking really entails! But not until we looked at other fracking activities elsewhere, the tories didn’t bother to tell us that did they?
              Fracking is a poisonous process, it is anti life, the tories did not once explain what shale extraction by means of unconventional high pressure hydraulic fracking really entailed, and hence the poisonous industry was foisted on the innocent people of this country under false pretenses. Just as the anti anti’s do here.
              Never mind peeny, you could always take out an injunction to prevent the truth from becoming public knowledge couldn’t you?

        • The Conservatives didn’t get a majority and have committed multiple counts of electoral fraud.

          The nation doesn’t want its environment wrecked. The Conservatives simply want to line their pockets and will cheat, lie and poison people to do so.

  4. Perhaps some individuals will need to have their “incentives” increased now, to propagate the anti stuff? Who said employment would not be helped from UK shale exploration?

    Although the amateurs still seem to hold sway with comments about the “majority opposing fracking” and reference to Ineos as a Ponzi scheme.

    However, I suspect little will change.

    • HUGE Ponzi scheme, gobbling up all those innocent investors and their hard earned cash. Oh wait a second, you can’t invest in Ineos because it’s their OWN cash. Yup these antis are little bit dim when it comes to money and how the world operates out with their shires.

      • Look at the IGAS 5Y chart to see a ponzi bubble David Cameron helped create. Then there’s AJ Lucas and other fracking related shares you can gamble your money on. As for Ineos, it may be their own money, but they are gambling on fracking still being legal and the next government not outlawing it. That’s a risky and irresponsible bet from a financial viewpoint.

  5. Mr .Pickering is correct about Ineos factories/refineries being hazardous.
    Just ask the workforce at or the HSE about the dangerous incidents at their Grangemouth plant .
    Very selective is our Mr.Pickering .
    Very rich is our Mr.Ratcliffe.
    [Edited by moderator]

  6. “Own” is when your personal wealth is estimated at around £6 billion. Your company is the largest private firm in UK, you employ 4000 people in UK, and around another 15000 in the rest of the world.

    Seems some are quite happy to have wealthy owners of their football clubs, putting their money into teams, but dislike owners of business risking everything and actually making it work. The last wealthy guy I worked for sold a business after building it up for twenty years. At the start the “stationery” was a packet of pencils and some paper his kids gave him as a helping hand. House was mortgaged and a large overdraft. Yet, some were criticising when after twenty years he sold his business to a multi national and became a multi millionaire. It is a strange fact that those who do that are the ones who will spend their time criticising those who take the risks, and some getting the rewards, but would not have the guts to do it themselves.

    But then, we should all share the wealth-just like Venezuela!

    • It is also called Labour party, the Green, the Communist which all expect others to risk their saving working their arse off to creat wealth that will be redistributed equally to those who doesn’t want to work but love to point finger telling people what they should do.

    • Martin, you don’t have to answer for GBK; they can do that themselves…
      Your definition of ‘Own’ does not have any relevance. INEOS is a hive of companies, mainly Ltd which means shareholders; no one person owns a ltd company, It is its own entity; therefore personal wealth is irrelevant. The investment information is now hidden. No transparency for this collective….

  7. The use of a French tactic, “Operation Escargot” is impossible to police and needs to be employed. This continued removal of geologically sequestered carbon and its release back into the ecosphere has to stop now, if there is to be even a small chance of averting the planetary train-wreck now approaching platform Earth. Get your vehicle on the road now and drive slowly, very slowly, but legally.

  8. Producing our own fracked gas saves the massive carbon footprint incurred by piping gas from Russia, or, importing LNG from Qatar, USA, Algeria etc.

    I’m surprised enviros don’t recognise this benefit.

    • All energy types have a carbon footprint. Better to be building wind, solar and hydro farms that provide 20+ years of energy than just burning the gas away and having nothing to show for it.

      • “nothing to show for it” but 75 years of good, clean, productive living for all of the country. Go with more solar and wind and see how many people die from energy poverty, how many businesses flee the country, how many jobs are lost, and how often the nation experiences blackouts!

        • fibonnaci009

          I’m confused, are you talking about actual and factual events that have happened in the USA where you live ????

          Or just making a wild , unfounded guesses as to how us poor Brits may suffer in the future ???

          Either way your concern for the welfare of us Brits is quite moving, it’s actually brought a couple of tears to my eyes.

          Best regards from the UK, Jack

          • No, wackyjack, as opposed to the anti-frack side, we rely on facts rather than fiction. See the US and South Australia as shining examples at each end of the spectrum. The US has brought down co2 emissions further than any industrialized nation and has gotten a massive boost in productivity, wealth, and energy security. South Australia has pushed wind an solar and now has the most expensive electricity in the world. Businesses are shuttering, jobs are fleeing, fuel poverty is rising, and the government is beginning to understand the massive mistake it has made by turning its back on gas exploration.

    • If any pro frackers have concerns over carbon footprint I suggest they stop buying the Chinese goods that litter most peoples houses. Also do not support any companies who are connected to China as that boosts the Chinese economy and they produce even more cheap goods for us to import and add to our carbon footprint.

      I am surprised pro frackers cannot see the hypocrisy

      If you want more home grown fossil fuel write to the Government and ask them to remove support from onshore fracking and instead bolster support to our secure proven North sea industry and our 440,000 strong offshore workforce as that Industry does supply our base fuel needs whereas onshore shale never could in a million years.

      Also add to your letter to the Government that you fully understand that stopping LNG from Qatar would destroy our £1.5 Billion annual trade deal and that it is ‘ok’ to do so.

      Please try to write the letter without using a pen imported from China.

  9. Sherwulfe-sorry that you don’t know who or what you are talking about. Afraid it is you who needs to catch up. If you spent more time researching the subject and less trying to score points against posters on this site you may add something for the few who may look at this site for information. If they are still looking, try the Sunday Times, Rich List 2017 “Ineos has grown so fast that it is now the largest private firm in Britain”. What is difficult to understand about that?

    (Yes, I replied for GBK, because I have patience on my side. Others may not have been so charitable.)

    However, it seems that is par for the course for the antis. Many of you don’t understand the subject but you still think you are right. Would be a little bit more believable if you were seen to understand what you chat about.
    But don’t get too excited about it. Having observed the nonsense spouted by politicians/media etc about chlorinated washed chicken over the last week, you are not alone. I have visited poultry farms and processing sites in USA, UK, France and other countries so I can talk as a qualified poultry specialist about the real facts, but there seems to be many more out there with no experience/knowledge who want to speak on the same subject as “experts.” I won’t bore you with the actual facts, but just suggest that if it is “good” for a baby to swim before they can walk in chlorinated water, and then take a bottle that was sterilised in chlorinated solution, what is the problem with washing chicken after slaughter in a chlorinated solution? (The problem was the French wanting to protect their chicken producers income, absolutely nothing to do with hygiene or animal welfare.)

    But we must make sure facts don’t get in the way.

    • How many of your patients are chickens? Are Ineos into chickens now? better not to put all their eggs in one basket i suppose? Hmmmm Ineos de Frackasee au poulet chlorée? Sounds……horrible?

    • Apologies, MC, must have touched a nerve

      As an ‘anti’ I must be tarred with the same brush….I will take my place with the ‘great unwashed’; uneducated, don’t understand the nuances of the English language or worse…cannot read; let alone understand business and creative accounting, who swallow PR hype hook line and sinker…..

      The sky is certainly pink tonight…..

      • And after peeping at the first page, be sure to read its entirety – continuing all the way to the end of Appendix ‘B’

      • “British Geological Survey proving what goes wrong if you frack the Bowland Basin.”

        BGS, in their own video explanation (produced AFTER the review you offered) specifically state about those tremors “Only 50 people felt it AND IT DID NO DAMAGE.”

        Their Dr Nick Riley explains that Blackpool’s trams cause more perceptible vibrations than that work on the borehole!

        • Hilarious.

          No mention in the video of the elephant in the room.

          In the official report Cuadrilla ask for a 2.6 magnitude threshold for future events.

          If you create a 2.3m event which shuts your operations down then you must have a serious need to ask to create LARGER events in the future.

          Obviously they need that high threshold to access the gas.

          A 1 magnitude rise is felt 10 times as strong

          So the BGS state a 0.5 M for

          ‘The next few operations’

          and

          ‘ Can be adjusted over time’

          Well that’s the BGS off the hook and we will publicise the 0.5m and not mention the ‘other’ stuff

          Sorry guys, the communities protecting their homes and environment are a lot smarter than that hence 7 years and no gas and nothing on the horizon which will attract investors.

          • Let’s see who is watching what.

            Does fracking cause earthquakes video includes Nick Riley ………under 2000 views

            UK shale gas video which includes the Preese Hall earthquakes and property damage …….30,000 plus views

            The truth behind the dash for gas by Marco Jackson

            The parts of fracking that the industry avoids to talk about………275,000 plus views

            It would appear people want to and are hearing the truth about the industry.

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