In this update on protests about fracking and the onshore oil and gas industry:
- MPs address anti-fracking rally at Ellesmere Port;
- Launch of protest policing report at Preston New Road;
- 12 protesters found guilty of obstructing the highway outside Cuadrilla’s site
- Visits by former Green Party and Lib Dem leaders
- Figures release on policing costs and arrests at Kirby Misperton
This post will updated with new material. Please let us know (click here) about events which you think should be included.
24 November 2017
“New Suffragettes” deliver anti-fracking message to county council
A group of women anti-fracking protesters calling themselves the New Suffragettes marched on North Yorkshire County Council’s headquarters in Northallerton. Carrying banners with NYCC Do Your Duty, they chanted “We asked the fracking questions, now we want the fracking answers”.
The women had previously asked questions at a council committee about Third Energy’s fracking plans at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. But the committee was suspended because officials said the women had not submitted their questions in time.
At Northallerton, council staff asked the women to stand in a protest pen but they refused and stood on the steps of County Hall. A small group met council representatives to discuss issues such as traffic management plans, water quality monitoring and wildlife surveys.
22 November 2017
Disabled protester complains about police behaviour
A disabled protester at Kirby Misperton complained that police almost tipped her our of her wheelchair.
In an interview with Maple Indie Media, Sharon said the incident happened as police started to clear the road at the end of a slow walk outside Third Energy’s fracking site:
‘’One was behind me and another grabbed the side of the wheelchair, it all got a bit spooky then because the next thing I knew the wheelchair is tipping…. it was frightening because I had a kidney transplant and when they do that it’s not so deeply in the body, you have to be careful not to knock it…..I said just let me go, you’re tipping the wheelchair over”
21 November 2017
Slow walks at Kirby Misperton
North Yorkshire Police said two convoys leaving Third Energy’s fracking site were delayed by slow walk protests.
The force said two vehicles were delayed from 10.45am-11.05am. A second slow walk took place from 12.10pm-12.30pm.
Superintendent Alisdair Dey, of North Yorkshire Police, said:
“We’ll continue to support and protect people engaged in peaceful protest activity at Kirby Misperton. Officers today assessed the situation, engaged with the protest community, and explained clearly what was reasonable and safe in the circumstances.”
20 November 2017
Protest policing report launch
The police monitoring group, Netpol, used the backdrop of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site to launch a report on policing at anti-fracking protests. The group has called for an independent review of what it called aggressive and confrontational policing. DrillOrDrop article. Link to the report Protecting the Planet is Not a Crime (pdf file)
Among the speakers were Kevin Blowe, of Netpol, and Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for south east England. The former Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, also visited the site and met campaigners.
Commonweal presented to Westminster
An artwork in the shape of a wagon wheel, called Don’t Frack the Commonweal, was presented at Westminster.
The artist, Tom Cousins, made the spokes of the wheel with more than 100 opponents of oil and gas sites across England. Along with representatives from these areas, he met peers Jenny Jones, Jan Royalle and John Granchester at the House of Lords.
Mr Cousins said:
“Most of our MPs refuse to represent us on this issue or appear to receive the wheel. The wheel was presented hung from a bodged and frequently used hay rake to highlight our relationship with the land, and that MPs are caught between a crossfire of peers and peasents. United we shall prevail.”
Describing the wheel, he said:
“It symbolises equality and balance, since all the spokes are of equal length and stay firm as they hold their position, allowing society to effectively roll.”
18 November 2017
Four MPs address anti-fracking rally in Ellesmere Port
Labour MPs Chris Matheson, Justin Madders, Mike Amesbury and Rebecca Long-Bailey addressed a crowd of about 250 people outside the civic centre in Ellesmere Port.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow energy secretary, told the event:
“I can categorically state, when Labour is in power, our position on fracking is quite simple: We’re going to ban it!
“No ifs no buts – a full ban on fracking.”
“This is about our future and it’s about building our economy on the right things.
“If we start down the road of fracking, it locks us into an energy infrastructure that is in favour of fossil fuels at a time when we should be focusing on renewable energy and creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.”
IGas has applied for permission to test a shale gas well in Ellesmere Port and has begun the application process for fracking nearby on the edge of the Ince Marshes. The UKGEOS underground research centre is also proposing to drill 80 boreholes to study the impacts of fracking and other processes.
In his speech Chester MP, Chris Matheson, said :
“When IGas tried to frack just outside of Upton it was people standing here in this crowd today who made sure they didn’t it was the local community, yes it was local politicians, it was those men and women who over a year and a half got cold and wet and muddy living in a field making sure that that fracking couldn’t happen and prevent that from happening.
“When you bring the activists, the political representatives and the community together we’ve demonstrated that we can win.”
17 November 2017
Arrest during former Green Party leader’s fracking site visit
A 60-year-old woman was arrested during a protest outside Third Energy’s fracking site at Kirby Misperton but was released without charge.
Kirby Misperton Protection Camp said police moved a gathering of around 50 people away from the gate to the site.
The former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, told the crowd:
“Five years ago people said there would be a fracking industry in five years. Today there is no fracking in Britain, and we’ve got to keep it that way.”
Speaking after the arrest she said:
“I’ve been disturbed by the policing that I’ve seen here today. It’s been, in my view, unnecessarily confrontational and clearly the democratic right to public protest is not being upheld.”
12 protesters, including councillors, found guilty of obstruction
12 people, including three councillors, have been found guilty of obstructing the highway after a lock-on protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in July. But they were cleared of trades union charges which can carry a more serious penalty. All 12 denied the charges. They were each given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs totally £270. DrillOrDrop report
16 November 2017
Costs of Kirby Misperton protest policing in October
North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, said costs of policing the Kirby Misperton fracking protest in October was £233,704.
This brings the total so far to £415,418. This includes overtime, mutual aid, equipment, subsistence and travel but not the cost of officers assigned on a day-to-day basis, the PCC said.
Ms Mulligan said:
“The costs incurred during October were considerably higher than the previous month and this is due to a number of factors, including a rise in the number of officers needed when protest activity increased and, on a number of occasions, support from other police forces in the form of mutual aid. As well as keeping people safe at the Kirby Misperton site, I am also keen that business as usual is maintained across the county, as far as possible. If mutual aid is required, then that must be the decision, although as you can see from the figures, it is costly.
“However, at the moment North Yorkshire Police has the necessary contingencies and budgets in place to deal with events such as this in the short term. However, if the costs go beyond one per cent (or £1.4m) of our total budget, I have this week received a positive response from the Policing Minister to my letter stating that I have the option to seek a partial recovery of costs. I’d like to thank the Minister for replying so promptly.”
Arrest figures for Kirby Misperton
North Yorkshire Police said 40 people were arrested in connection with protest activity against Third Energy’s operation at Kirby Misperton. Of these, 35 people were charged, cautioned or remained under investigation. In September 26 people were arrested, of whom 24 were charged or cautioned.
Superintendent Alisdair Dey said:
“As well as facilitating people’s right to assemble and protest peacefully, part of our role is to keep disruption to local residents and businesses to a minimum. We are responding proportionately to any protest activity, which means at times there is an increase in the number of police officers in Kirby Misperton as we work to keep everyone safe.
“When protests are safe and peaceful, we are able to scale down our resources at Kirby Misperton, and redeploy those officers on other duties, such as high-visibility patrols and neighbourhood policing elsewhere in North Yorkshire.”
15 November 2017
Council meeting shelved when anti-fracking protesters demand answers
A North Yorkshire County Council meeting was suspended this morning when opponents of fracking demanded action to address concerns about imminent operations at a site near their homes. DrillOrDrop report
Video by Maple Indie Media
14 November 2017
Glue protest, Kirby Misperton
A 39-year-old woman glued herself to the entrance gate of Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton fracking site. North Yorkshire Police said officers removed her before the glue set. She was arrested and charged with hindering lawful business.