Legal

Breaking: INEOS fracking injunction continues

171025 Woodsetts site

INEOS injunction order. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A judge has ruled that an injunction obtained against anti-fracking protesters by INEOS Shale should continue

Earlier this month, INEOS – the UK’s largest holder of shale gas exploration licences – asked the High Court to extend the order.

Two environmental campaigners who opposed the order argued it was “unprecedented” and “draconian” and should be dismissed.

In the past few minutes, Mr Justice Morgan ruled that the interim injunction should remain in place. The campaigners can appeal.  A future trial would be needed to make the order permanent.

Mr Justice Morgan said he wanted to change some of the wording to the order to clarify what it covered. He also removed a clause in the original order preventing harassment of INEOS staff and contractors. More details of the order here

The case has been seen as a test of rights to protest and is regarded as important because it may encourage other companies to take similar action against opponents of their activities.

INEOS sought the original injunction in July after saying it faced “a real and imminent risks of being targeted by unlawful protests”.

The company, which has yet to be granted planning permission for shale gas exploration, said the injunction aimed to prevent unlawful activity, not curtail lawful protest.

The order is directed against “persons unknown” and prohibited them from interfering with the lawful activities of INEOS staff and contractors. People who breached the order risk prison or having their assets seized.

It specifically named two protest techniques used by anti-fracking campaigners: slow walking in front of deliveries and climbing on top of vehicles, known as lorry surfing.

The slow walking clause was a key issue during previous hearings. Some police forces regularly facilitate slow walking protests at fracking sites. Campaigners have been acquitted of allegedly obstructing the highway during these protests. Slow walking, “lorry surfing” and unlawful obstruction of the highway without unreasonable excuse remain in the order.

Campaigners Joe Corre, son of fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, and Joe Boyd, argued that order breached human rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

They said it was unnecessary and based on flimsy evidence that over-stated or misrepresented the risk.

The order threatened law-abiding people and was already having an “impermissible chilling effect” on the rights to protest, they said.

The judge deferred a decision on costs.

More details of the order here

Reaction

Challenger, Joe Corre

“INEOS wanted to criminalise legitimate protest including imprisonment and unlimited financial penalties for anyone who made negative comments about them or their supply chain on social media or any other form of communication. That has completely gone, and rightly so.

“However, this company, INEOS, which means against them in Latin, is still trying to buy the law and take away your right to protest,”

He said:

“The first time, INEOS lost about 10% of what they asked for in their initial 2,000-page injunction. This time around, a much larger chunk has been chopped away.

“In this latest judgement, INEOS have lost any mention of harassment. The judge has removed it from the injunction completely. Because telling someone who is trying to destroy your environment that you don’t like it is not harassment,”

 Tom Pickering, Operations Director of INEOS Shale

“Our people have the right to go to work free from fear of violence and unlawful interference. These injunctions simply protect INEOS and our people from hardcore activists who game the system and treat the law with contempt. Crucially they also protect the rights of people to lawfully, peacefully protest.”

Mr Pickering said INEOS staff had faced threats by email and social media, including:

“I will go and blow them up – just you watch”. “Kick the hell out of the driver and force chemicals down his throat.” “This is war so expect casualties.” “Kill their children”. “Can’t somebody kill the owner of INEOS?” He said:

 “These threats are vile, abusive and frightening. They demonstrate the sort of people we are facing.” 

Joe Boyd, challengers

“What INEOS has obtained from the Court today is profoundly troubling, it allows for an unprecedented restriction on our fundamental rights. The removal of the harassment aspect of the injunction is an important victory for us. But the rest of the injunction cannot be left unchallenged and we will be filing an application for permission to appeal.”

 Rosa Curling, of Leigh Day, which represented Joe Boyd

“Free speech is at the heart of any democracy. This case is about the right to protest, a right which has always been, and must continue to be, a fundamental aspect of peaceful political action in our society. Without the right to protest effectively, the ability of citizens to peacefully challenge injustices will be severely curtailed.”

Lancashire for Shale

“It’s disappointing that Ineos has had to go to these lengths when all it’s doing is looking for a new source of the gas many of us use in our homes and businesses every day. Not all protestors behave badly, but the fact that there have been over 300 arrests this year near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site shows that Ineos is justified in seeking to put in place this pre-emptive protection.

“Small companies that supply the shale gas industry will be particularly pleased with the outcome, given that a number of them have been bullied out of working with Cuadrilla during Reclaim The Power’s action this summer.”

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party

“This ruling places the right to protest under threat. Ineos have won a technical battle but they are on the wrong side of history and will not win the war. I have visited fracking sites across the country. I have seen the commitment, the energy, and the passion of those who know that fracking is bad for their communities and their country. Their opposition to fracking will never be silenced and the campaign for a future that’s clean and green will win out in the end.”

Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Europe

“This decision undermines our basic democratic rights to protest and defend our communities.

“Ineos is facing sustained protests for a reason. The company has amasssed an atrocious environmental record across Europe, from chemical leaks and substantial pollutant releases to fires and explosions. If this company is being allowed to frack the UK, more pollution and more accidents are likely to follow.”

“The public knows the dangers fracking poses to our clean air and water, and that’s why activists in England are taking bold action to protect their communities against these threats. Ineos would like to stifle this movement, and unfortunately this High Court injunction has given the company a potentially powerful tool to threaten those advocating for a healthy climate and a livable world. If Ineos thinks a court injunction will stop the movement to protect our water, climate and communities from fracking, they are in for a surprise.

Kevin Blowe, of the policing monitoring organisation, Netpol

“INEOS now has to implement the injunction. Potentially hundreds of people could be acting against the terms of the order. They have to make a decision on who they bring contempt proceedings against.

“The company said it was advised by the police to use civil injunctions. Does this mean the police will co-operate with INEOS on bring actions?

“The other concern is whether this injunction has encouraged other  companies to use injunctions against protesters.”

Woodsetts Against Fracking

“The bullies appear to have won, backed by their friends and allies, namely the Government.

“Or could this be the day the rest of England wakes up to the killer that is fracking and the threat to their freedom that big business has planned for us all.

“What has happened today is a huge undemocratic erosion of our civil liberties and our right to peacefully and legally express our opinions.”

Source: Rotherham Advertiser

Updated 4/12/2017 with quote from Woodsetts Against Fracking


Reporting at this hearing was made possible by the individual donations of DrillOrDrop readers

42 replies »

    • Well we’ll, what does this actually mean? It will be interesting to see what the modifications will amount to.

      Do we still have democracy that stands for civil and human rights and preserved common law, which cannot be overturned or modified?

      Or have we just seen that the best way to invade and conquer an entire country, is not by expensive armies, bombers and guns, but a simple injunction in their own country supported by a corrupted government?

      What would we have said in the recent past, if another country, for which now read corporation, for that is what all countries are, intended to invade us, and then took out an injunction to prevent us protesting even, let alone resisting, then would that have stopped us, not only protesting, but actively opposing that invasion?

      We, yes, we, have all ready witnessed the gross tin pot dictatorish arrogance and contempt for the British residents and local authorities,

      Do we really expect that this will not give full force to even more injunctions and accelerate and puff up yet more gross arrogance and contempt for the entire British people who will suffer for this debacle?

      Something rotten in the present state of UK.Gov isn’t there?

  1. Get real people, the whole area is covered in pit tips , this is ground which as been excavated from underground, add to that millions of tonnes of coal which as been excavated, will the pc brigade find something else to protest about.

      • [Edited by moderator] The Conservatives are your elected government and they support fracking. Your local government is superseded by national government. Yawn.

        • What a little preda-tory you are. The tories are not our elected government. They are YOUR elected goverment and they promised greater local involvement. As soon as local involvement attempted to challenge the government that all changed. Now THAT, Sir, is true hypocrisy.

          • What a load of baloney. I suggest you Google democracy and then start learning about politics before you write anymore nonsense.

  2. The only answer to this is even greater numbers of boots on the ground protesting. Police wouldn’t be able to arrest 10,000 of us!

  3. Sad day but I don’t think anyone expected anything else really did they? I would have been amazed had Justice Morgan slapped down another judge by throwing out the injunction – it’s not how the system works. I haven’t seen the proposed wording of the clause he wants to change yet but importantly for this injunction to be permanent (with precedent other fracking companies could use) it needs to go to a full trial –presumably in front of 3 judges. This is where it will (hopefully) fall over.

  4. I did say this would happen, a couple of minor adjustments and that’s it.
    The antis behaviour of late has caused them to score an own goal.
    You can’t act like a bunch of non educated delinquents and not expect a firm hand to put you back in line.
    That’s game over for the antis now in terms of them holding up progress by unlawful action.

    • Where is your evidence of “unlawful action”? Since 2013 we have had no unlawful action at any fossil fuel site. We are exercising our right to protest and the only violence has come from the police and security personnel.
      I take it you approve of the contamination of water sources, air and land?
      Are you an investor in destruction?
      If so, where do you live? Mars?

    • Minor adjustments Peeny? I think not. That harassment section is gone in its entirety as has the part about encouraging / assisting to protest. And it sounds as though this is going all the way up the legal pile so don’t be counting your chickens yet – you do remember what happened to your Don Diego thang don’t you? 😉

      • I am pretty disgusted by your choice of solicitors Hobbit. It is game over for you lot, we are enjoying a nice glass of bubbly 🙂

        • My solicitors were not involved my little ‘mentalist. A silly comment as usual.

          You don’t seriously believe that this bully boy industry can survive this way do you? Public support for fracking is already almost down to single figures – It won’t be long before it’s just a few suppliers and investors like you trying to prop it up whilst the rest of the country vents its anger at having its freedoms trashed in the interests of foreign investors and union bashing corporations.

          How long do you reckon May has got left in power? I’d neck that champagne fast as it may taste a bit sour shortly.

            • Peeny – don’t tell your suckers over on HotCopper but this was just a skirmish. The battle is still going on and even Ineos realise what a mess they are making here judging form their evasiveness on C4 earlier tonight. Oops!

  5. Public highway turned into a corporate highway – to hell. I wonder what “game over” means for the champagne drinkers celebrating the continuation of the temporary injunction – please explain? Who are you and what have you achieved? I use my name – why are you so shy if you are so right and so clever?

  6. There we are then.

    Antis welcome more extreme elements into their midst as their previous, more social, protests were not working. More extreme elements, without control, became more extreme! Surprise.
    Antis raised the anti, and the reaction was as expected and predicted. So now it has stopped being about fracking and become anti capitalist, anti police and now anti courts. Problem is, the vast majority of the English public are not anti capitalist, anti police or anti courts.

    The antis were not going to stop fracking being tested whilst they tried to keep the public on side. Absolutely no chance now. You were told Ineos would not play the same game but you continued to provide ammunition for them. Not too clever.

    GBK-please tell me how you have managed to invest in Ineos. Refracktion seems to know the answer-unless it is an attempt to excite the anti capitalist vote with fake news.

    • Your problem here Martin is that the vast majority of the fracking protesters targeted by Ineos are not anti capitalist, anti police or anti courts.

      The frackers hoped to start fracking whilst they tried to keep the public on side. Absolutely no chance now. Ineos playing games with our legal system has put the mockers on that. Not too clever. Support will be in single figures before Labour take power and ban it.

      BTW you up an “ante” not an “anti”. Sorry if that makes your attempted rhetorical flourish look a bit silly now.

      Peeny isn’t invested in Ineos – I never said he was Martin. As usual you are a little too sharp and you’ve gone and cut yourself again. He is invested in the industry though – specifically in AJ Lucas shares poor lamb – he posts on the Hot Copper board as Bohara14 – didn’t you know? 😂

    • Do you expect anyone to take you seriously with your false accusations? We Protectors do not “welcome more extreme elements into their midst” – there have been no violent or extreme actions taking place. If you can attest otherwise, please provide proof.
      Since 2013 we have maintained entirely peaceful protests and the only violence has come from extremist Police or Security action.
      We will continue with our protests precisely as before because we are right and we are trying to protect future generations from the damage that fracking and the use of wells for disposal of radio-active substances will cause.
      You reveal your utter lack of knowledge with your comment.
      Try coming to one of our camps and then you might discover that you have been batting for the wrong side for some time.

      • Well said Frances, dont give them a moments more thought, they feed off reactions, these triple A’s are just sounding off. There is no substance, just venting out all that bile and venom that they have been storing up after all the previous defeats and embarrassing operators screw ups.
        Watching the progress of events it has become clearly apparent that everything has gone so disastrously wrong for fracking so far, that all the anti anti antics had left was this Injunction.
        Nothing else had worked, not the illusive science, not exploration, not operational integrity, not winning public consent, not convincing fracking was anything but a poisonous invasion into our country.
        So it was in the end all down to this injunction, they could not get their industry to remain any other way but by the back door through litigation, their favourite tool once they have lost all credibility.
        They won’t get away with this either.
        Same old same old tactics operated everywhere else and no difference here, all empty promises and litigation, that is all they have.

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