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 »

  1. So the law doesn’t stop illegal action by investors, including common assault, mmm, what does this say about democracy, rights and freedom of speech?

  2. The injunction is on behalf of INEOS, not Cuadrilla. This page is on that subject, not Cuadrilla or AJLucas. You even linked the “foreign investors” and “union bashing corporations”.

    I know it is a day when it is difficult to see the way forward, and on top of the diesel penalty, it must be a bad week, but if you merely continue to try and whinge about who people are, and their motives through fake news, it will only get worse.

    I don’t think any of us are interested in your financial motives or your politics refracktion, and very few what your real identity is. I really can’t see why you find it so interesting to repeatedly post such content on DOD if you think the majority of the protestors are not represented by those antis posting on DOD. I am sure there are many good Australian’s who have invested in AJLucas

  3. What were the hundreds of arrests about then Frances??? No unlawful action??? Must be an investor in fairy dust.

    Bit unfortunate the courts keep records.

  4. Oh dear Frances, you really need to DYOR. Radio-active waste?? Err, is that not already dealt with up the road from PNR? I think it is called Sellafield, and Lancashire has managed that in the neighbourhood for a very long time.

    Fake news and poor science may be your comfort blankets, but that’s all they are. The radio-active waste nonsense has been attempted in almost every situation where a hole is made in the land in the UK. There are far better opportunities in the UK if that was an intention. I’m afraid it merely shows a lack of knowledge rather than anything else.

    • Oh dear indeed. I suggest you DYOR Martin, particularly regards Sellafield. Why do you keep getting high horsed about science as if it’s all on your side? I was speaking to a nuclear disposal consultant recently about the issues that are ongoing around Sellafield and it’s radioactive waste ponds that nobody has an answer for. An American team recently pulled out of a huge contract – they were tasked with finding a solution for Sellafields waste problems. They couldn’t.

      I’ve no doubt they will be exploring all kinds of future alternatives along with the chance to seal stuff two miles or more underground in deep boreholes – once commercially depleted. It’s a well documented practice. Have you looked into it? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s being considered. But my point is if you’re going to play such gotcha games (as above) then please show you’ve got the knowledge at your finger tips that you pretend to have. I’m beginning to think fake science is your comfort blanket.

    • … furthermore what is your solution to the disposal of the flowback and sludge, with it’s highly toxic and partly radioactive constitients Martin? I’ve not seen a credible discussion on this issue yet.

  5. If radio active material requires underground disposal there are much better options, PhilipP. I have done my research previously, as stated, it is a fake piece of “news” provided whenever any underground activity is being planned in UK. If you can’t scare people with the project, then you fabricate what would follow the project.

    You can do the same research if you want. That is up to you. But, if this is the best the antis can come up with-a tired, previously attempted piece of “technical” nonsense that is well past it’s sell by date, you have really thrown in the towel.

  6. I suggest you refer to the operation plans of the companies concerned regarding that PhilipP. Not exactly rocket science-they have a plan too-except near Wressle where the land is left heavily contaminated. There are many industries in the UK that produce toxic waste, and every individual the same (some more than others) and will each have their own plan. Solar panel construction produces masses. Ruminants, a heck of a lot. I have told you before, I had to produce a plan to re-open a pig farm that had been closed down by the EA because their plan to manage toxic waste had a weakness-and that was many years ago. It brought 5 jobs back and employed around the same number of consultants, and about double that from construction.
    Be careful though that you don’t make too much of it-you will only prove that there could be more employment from fracking than the antis want to admit, and regain the “third columnist” title.

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