Police set limits on North Yorkshire fracking protests

KM8 170904 1

Kirby Misperton wellsite 4 September 2017. Photo used with the author’s permission

Supt Dave HannanOpponents of Third Energy’s operation to frack a well at Kirby Misperton will be allowed to slow down lorries delivering to the site just twice a day, the police officer in charge of the operation has said.

Supt Dave Hannan (pictured), the head of specialist operations at North Yorkshire Police, told a meeting in the village yesterday that the so-called slow walking protests would each be limited to 20 minutes and permitted in only two designated places.

He said:

“I will allow slow walking in front of wagons once in the morning and once in the afternoon. One slow walk in the morning one slow walk in the afternoon.

“That slow walk, I will allow to take place for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon.

“When protest happens, if it happens, you will get your 20 minutes. You will allow delivery vehicles or other vehicles to go through.”

Some protesters have described the announcement as “a joke”. The police monitoring organisation, Netpol, said North Yorkshire Police seemed to have falsely suggested “peaceful” protest meant no disruption.

Fracking at the Kirby Misperton shale gas well, known as KM8, is likely to be the first example of high volume hydraulic fracturing in the UK since 2011.

Third Energy posted notices in the village giving seven days’ notice of the start of work from 4 September 2017. This means operations could begin as early as next Wednesday (13 September 2017). Third Energy said last week it would be fracking before the end of the year.


“Slow walks withdrawn if there is direct action”

Supt Hannan, the silver commander of the policing operation, told the meeting of around 80 people that slow walks protests would not be allowed in the village of Kirby Misperton.

DrillOrDrop understands that anti-fracking campaigners had already said they would not disrupt the village.

The Superintendent said slow walks would be limited to two sections of road. The first is on Kirby Misperton Road between the bridge and the roundabout at the eastern entrance of the village. The other section is between the fracking site and the western edge of the village.

The slow walk in the morning would take place after 9am, he said. People at the meeting reported that the superintendent also said that all slow walks would be withdrawn if there were any direct action protests, such as climbing on lorries.

Campaign groups and anti-fracking protesters have said they have not discussed the rules with the police nor agreed to them. Asked at the meeting if his decision was unilateral, the superintendent said:

“It is, yes”.


Slow walk protest at Horse Hill in Surrey. Photo: Eddie Mitchell

Slow walk protests have been a feature of opposition to fracking and onshore operations in the UK since 2013, when campaigners regularly blocked the road outside Cuadrilla’s site at Balcombe, in West Sussex. Protesters have attempted to use slow walks outside the Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool, where Cuadrilla is currently drilling.

“I feel we are being watched”

The meeting heard that three police CCTV cameras had been installed on Kirby Misperton Lane.

Supt Hannan said the cameras had been placed in what he called “strategically-important locations” chosen by him.

“Those cameras will be used to detect any disorder, any offences that may or may not occur. They also give us the ability to monitor what is happening on the road.”

Local people have said the cameras are all on the section of Kirby Misperton Road between the A169 and the roundabout in the village.

One woman told the meeting:

“I feel personally that we are being watched”.

Supt Hannan also said he had met executive from Third Energy three times but he would not be sharing intelligence or operational information with the company.

“No effect on community”

The officer also suggested that protests would not be allowed to affect in the area. He said:

“I have a job to do, ok. … The rights of Third Energy, the lawful activity of Third Energy and facilitating peaceful protest. I have to balance that.

“I have to make sure that the community from the surrounding area are able to go about their day-to-day business and lifestyles without being affected in anyway.

“So if a road gets blocked then, you are unable to get to a doctors or take the kids to school, go to Tesco’s or whatever, it is my job to try to ensure that road opens and that you can do that.

“What we’re hoping for is that it’s a peaceful protest; there’s a community lives here, there are people who do not want to see the scenes that we’ve seen in other parts of the country in this beautiful area of Yorkshire.”

50 officers allocated to operation

North Yorkshire Police has allocated 50 officers to the policing operation at Kirby Misperton, the meeting heard. Supt Hannan said:

“That doesn’t come cheaply and that affects our ability to operate across North Yorkshire.”

The Supt said he had asked Third Energy to limit heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to day-time hours and weekdays only. He said he didn’t have the resources to operate at weekends.

A traffic management plan, which was a condition of the planning permission, has been approved, according to North Yorkshire County Council today. But the document is not available online and the planning conditions restrict deliveries by HGVs to the period 7am-7pm Monday to Saturday, except in an emergency.

KM8 wellsite

The Kirby Misperton well site

Alternative route

The meeting also heard there was an alternative, discretionary route for HGVs through Great Habton if the designated roads were not available.

In response to questions, Supt Hannan said he had made no plans around a second route. But he added:

“I as the police commander have the ability to review the transport plan and change the route if I think it is necessary.”

The most recent statement from North Yorkshire County Council on the KM8 consent said:

“The planning conditions relating to both the Traffic Management Plan for the development and for the prevention of mud on the road have been agreed by the Local Highway Authority.

“That leaves condition 35 outstanding, this relates to the financial commitment required to deliver the restoration and aftercare for the development.  Solicitors representing the developer and the planning authority continue to discuss the detail behind the condition and in so doing will be seeking to agree a date to bring the application to a conclusion.”

This statement was updated on 7 September 2017 with the following:

“The planning conditions relating to both the Traffic Management Plan for the KM8 hydraulic fracturing development at Kirby Misperton and condition 35 which relates to the financial commitment required to deliver the restoration and aftercare for the development, have yet to be fully agreed by North Yorkshire County Council as planning authority.

“No activity relating specifically to this permission can take place before agreement is reached and the county council is therefore in contact with Third Energy about current activity.”


17 replies »

    • Thanks Ruth and Paul, curious that this intention has not been discussed with anyone, except perhaps behind locked doors with Third Energy? Who are the police working for? The UK public, or private corporations that can’t keep their actions and inactions within the law in the first place?
      Who pays these guys salaries? The UK public or Third Energy? Something Big Fishy in the, as yet unpolluted waters perhaps? Wet comfort blankets for the anti anti’s to crow about?
      I know how much you all love these videos, so here is Ian R Crane’s take on the situation :

      No Ian R Crane surfing guys, or perhaps we will take out a slaves injunction to prevent your freedom of speech?

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      • Dear Supt Dave Hannan,

        Please could you put a limit on the number of times pedestrians can press that soddin’ button at Pelican crossings in Yorkshire?

        This freedom of choice causes major tail backs of traffic clogging up the highways stopping the ambulances getting through and making me late for my doctor’s appointment; my blood pressure is through the roof every morning I try to get to work and my friend’s supermarket trip hell on earth as they cannot now get there and back in time to pick their kids up from school.

        Yours respectfully
        A. Protestor

  1. Well done. A good Yorkshire, practical, no nonsense, bit of policing.

    I have repeatedly posted that the behaviour at PNR would result in police having to tighten up the way they police. No one to blame but the protestors themselves-but they will find someone.

    • The problem here Martin is that the police themselves admit that there is a considerable grey area here where various areas of law (trespass, human rights etc) collide. Attempting to impose arbitrary limitations and conditions in this way virtually guarantees conflict right from the outset.

      My guess is that after this crass opening tactic he’s going to need rather more than 50 police – he’d better start budgeting for the 100 they need each day here in Lancashire, and he’d better start organising some of that mutual aid now as he’s going to be competing with Lancashire Constabulary for the already limited resources.

  2. Brilliant news. You need to deal with these type of people far stronger than previously. Their upbringing meant they didn’t learn the rule of authority.

    • Interesting remark GottaBEascalating? This is just another diversionary tactic, trying to point to splinters in the eyes of protesters as the problem, while simultaneously totally ignoring the ever growing unwieldy cobbled together rotten planks in the eyes of the operators and their government undeclared vested interest protectors.

      What do you suggest GottaBEscalating? What measures would you like to see here?

      The police are stuck in the middle on this by their duty to obey orders and their compromised position regarding their corporate masters, damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. However unilateral impositions such as this can only exacerbate an all ready tricky situation.
      Apparently this is a designated escalation and provocation move and is as such entirely contrary to the declared police charter.
      Perhaps that should be challenged directly and addressed to Superintendent David Hannan personally?
      PS I just did.

  3. The law at present is the law at present. It is black or white. Regarding slow walking my understanding of terminology such as ” I will allow” implies slow walking is unlawful and the twice a day allowance is given outside of the law.

    If slow walking is unlawful then the twice a day allocation is to be welcomed.

    If however slow walking is lawful then there is nothing governing the amount or when slow walking can take place.

    Everyone understands the importance of the safety of the road users however there is nothing that would suggest that 2 slow walks could not cause harm but 3 or more would.

    As the 50 officers are to be employed with advanced notice I am shocked to read “that affects our ability to operate across North Yorkshire.”

    I would like to think that our police force do not knowingly leave any area vulnerable and therefore organise the correct level of cover especially when they have plenty of time to do so.

  4. My guess is he will have most of the local community supporting him. They are probably reasonably comfortable with the NIMBYS but not so much with the other extremes of the alphabet who have associated themselves with this protest-the Anarchists and the Zenophobes. (Before anyone Giggles-“fear, hatred, or mistrust of that which is foreign”) You have seen their behaviour at PNR, many of the antis have condoned it rather than controlled it, in good Yorkshire fashion this guy has set out his stall that he won’t. Whether it is considered by the antis is another matter, but the guy has clearly defined what his position is, and the community now know.

  5. Supt Hannan in his interview on Look North didn’t seem too happy about protesters coming from out of the local area as at PNR. The fact of the matter is that Fracking is a national problem and will have national consequences so it is logical that will be other than just local protesters. We anti-frackers will stand together in solidarity.

  6. Yes, John. But your boots will not be made for walking.

    I think the Supt. is more concerned about the motivation of the protestors (anarchists to zenophobes) that have joined in to have their agendas practiced. Perhaps [edited by site editor to check accuracy] the on-line threats to some locals initiated his concern and then he could witness the disgusting behaviour that was happening at PNR and the reports from his colleagues facing daily abuse and just decided, “no way, I will protect the community.”

    If you stood together, in whatever you want to stand in, Supt. Hannan’s job would be easy. But, you want to stand together to obstruct and then move, to more antisocial activity.

  7. I note the “may” Paul. I did look into this, at the time, and was quite satisfied with the information I saw (otherwise I would not have mentioned it), but I did not keep a record of this, so can not give you a reference. As you indicated, it was quite a long time ago.

    Shakespeare wrote a lot many years ago, I have read some of it in the past and satisfied then he said it, but I ashamedly have to admit I have no references filed away that now confirms he did. When my memory starts to go, I will start to doubt that he did, but so far, so good.

    What was the question? (Joke.)

  8. This has not been a peaceful protest as there have been many arrested! Delayed traffic! Seeing the health and safety breeches and people on vehicles is not peaceful! Mimicking the police and dressing like police and dancing is not law abiding gouding the police is unacceptable! Having small children there is not appropriate on any level ! Where are children’s social services as this is a risk to children involved as not peaceful! Allowing children to witness it’s OK to ridicule the police and the law is outrageous! As a local person I do not support this protest and there are 400 other locals that also share my view!!! Angry at the complete waste of police resources!

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