Legal

Campaigners explain why they will fight on against INEOS fracking protest injunction

Joe Corre and Joseph Boyd Ian R Crane

Joe Corre (left) and Joe Boyd. Photo: Ian R Crane

Two campaigners who challenged the injunction by INEOS Shale against anti-fracking protests have vowed to continue their fight.

Joe Corre and Joe Boyd said they would lodge an appeal against last week’s High Court ruling which continued injunctions against unlawful interference by protesters in INEOS operations.

The judge, Mr Justice Morgan, removed one aspect of the injunction against harassment and changed the wording in some sections. But he rejected the calls for the injunction to be dismissed.

Under the ruling, people who obstruct the company’s activities could be jailed, fined or have their assets seized.

After the hearing, INEOS’s operation’s director, Tom Pickering, said:

“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.”

The campaigners have a fortnight to begin appeal proceedings. They reflect here on the outcome of the case so far and what should happen next.

News of the ruling and reaction and detail of what Mr Justice Morgan said in his ruling

Joe Corre

171031 Ineos injunction dod

Protest against the INEOS injunction at the High Court. Photo: DrillOrDrop

I’m very bullish about two aspects of the judge’s ruling that need to be appealed.

The first is the human rights aspect of protest. The other is having persons unknown as defendants.

We now have two weeks to go back to court to work out on what level to appeal. The injunction, far from being stamped into law as they had hoped would happen on 12 September, is yet another interim injunction, not permanent as they would have wanted. What they set out to do as a company has absolutely failed and they have a huge PR issue on top of that.

There are still some major problems with the injunction that are to do with human and civil rights. These are the sections of the ruling that deal with slow walking in front of lorries, lock-on protests and plotting to damage INEOS by trespassing on land and building camps. Those issues have been further complicated by the judgement, not clarified.

People will get caught out and what INEOS will seek to do is to single out ringleaders. If people are arrested on the highway for an ordinary criminal offence they will have this other layer of threat on top.

The other important aspect that needs challenging is the fact that this injunction is against person’s unknown and that, on a personal level, they can put me down as a defendant in a case when they have no evidence against me. My legal team made a big deal of this.

If someone is going to be at risk of imprisonment for doing an action then that person needs to be aware that doing that action is going to potentially land them in trouble. If they’re not aware of it and it’s not criminal by law, then it makes the whole thing more confusing.

Getting this injunction for INEOS was an act of desperation, in my eyes.

The writing is now on the wall. In England we are surrounded by countries that have banned it or have moratoriums or restrictions in place: France, Scotland, Irish Republic, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Conservatives are now isolated as the only major political party that supports this industry. Both of the other major political parties have said that they would ban it. The Conservatives are in a very weak position and the Labour Party now needs to step up and put their money where their mouth is and do something it.

INEOS knows that if the same kind of tactics are used against them that have been used against so successfully against Cuadrilla they are going to be walking through treacle to try and get this thing done. That’s why they brought this injunction in place.

I agree that this injunction is still an absolute full-frontal assault on our right to protest. But for me it is all going in the right direction.

So far, we’ve cut off a bit of one of their legs. Now we’re going to go back and deal with cutting off some of their arms and, in the end, I don’t think this injunction is going to look like very much at all.

I believe that bit by bit we will knock that back. And hopefully, by the time we’ve done that, the political landscape will have caught up a bit. We should have an announcement that the Welsh Assembly will move to ban fracking under the Wales Act. Hopefully the Labour Party and other political parties will now start to pressure Conservatives in marginal constituencies that are going to be affected by fracking to say what side of the fence they are on. There are quite a lot of Conservatives now who are extremely concerned about it. That’s why I think the whole situation is so fragile and that’s why I think that INEOS have acted in such a desperate way.

On the 12th of September we went to court for the initial hearing. INEOS had watered down the injunction a little bit by adding “fair and reasonable” terminology. The court gave us a three-day hearing and at that hearing we managed to remove a huge chunk of the injunction. This was the part that made it the widest injunction ever because INEOS had sought to threaten imprisonment against people who were posting on social media, communicating with their supply chain or talking to any of their employees in a way that they didn’t like.

The claim that this is the widest injunction ever has crumbled. In fact in many ways it looks pretty average.

If we hadn’t stood up, we would have had a test case in law where people could have been imprisoned for up to two years for writing something on social media that a company didn’t like.

The fact that a judge in the High Court can actually grant such an injunction at a secret court hearing is another aspect altogether.

The real problem is the fact that we have secret courts, supposedly set up to deal with issues of national security and terrorism, that are being used to effectively buy the law and smash our human rights. That’s a real issue behind all of this.

INEOS have kept the detail away from the public as much as they could by threatening anyone who wanted to have a look at the contents of this injunction and see how it affected them with legal costs.

I had to give my ID, my name and address to their lawyers under the threat of having to pay all these legal costs just to have a look at this injunction. As soon as they did that they put me down as a defendant. That was the way they have approached it: bullying everyone, trying to frighten everyone with these notices stuck up around their land, threatening everybody.

Joe Boyd

Joe Boyd

Joe Boyd in a protest at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site

On 23 November, just over 17 months after a small majority of Britons voted to leave the European Union, the Swiss-based company, INEOS, received an extension of its injunctions against anti-fracking protests.

The draconian injunction had a few minor alterations from the one agreed at the earlier ex-parte hearing on 27 July. At the time, this was the widest injunction of its kind granted in a British court to stifle citizens’ attempts to establish the true meaning of ‘No social license’ and protect land in both intergenerational and intragenerational equitable terms.

Last week, we failed to overturn this injunction in the High Court, but we mustn’t stop there. Too much is at stake.

Isn’t this the type of attempt which those voting to leave the EU were hoping to avoid? British laws by foreign companies to block our future could turn out to be profoundly one of the most troubling decisions of our time. The renewed injunction allows for an unprecedented restriction on our fundamental rights, which has forever played an important part in political struggles.

Social and environmentally-minded figures at the top of the Green Party have collectively led the way politically, and must be commended for their determined work in opposing the injunction.

We are also seeing the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats realising this is a huge social and environmental issue. As the Labour Party moves away from the neoliberal direction of the past few decades, we can hope to see more of its members involved with these political and corporate struggles. Yet, citizens, campaigners, activists and guardians of this land need more support from them. We are certainly not seeing enough as we attempt to overturn this injunction or put a halt to these companies’ oppressive invasion. Even some Conservatives are now raising questions but until the right wing of the party shows its concerns at this Swiss takeover of our law the troubles will continue.

The day after the injunction was granted, corporate takeover went one step further in the name of national security.

INEOS, the largest of the shale gas companies, has applied to test drill at three sites in the East Midlands. With no decisions made by local councils, on two of them in reasonable time limit periods (their words, not mine) they will be asking the planning inspectorate to intervene.

With huge opposition to their plans to industrialise the area, some might think, that just maybe they are avoiding local democracy, just like they did when they went behind the peoples back and acquired an ex-parte injunction against ‘persons unknown’. The clues, to what might soon become a national security issue lie later in their statement: ‘these are nationally important issues being made at a local level’. If this actually turns out to be the case, and the government fast tracks these highly controversial plans, we can safely say, we are living in a totalitarian state.

All this attention and exposure of collusion was made possible by determined campaigners for over six years now.

The campaign must be allowed to continue in the same vein, which is why I call on people to question this attempt by INEOS to shut down functioning society’s aspirations. How many more injunctions will we see before a change to the economic ideology which favours big business? By then it could be all too late. These injunctions could be the start of slippery slope that will be remembered in decades ahead, as a dark time in our country. Will INEOS move back to Switzerland when a Labour Government takes control and Tory tax breaks for business are a thing of the past?

Dangerously their legacy could linger on long after the shale industry, by setting a precedent in UK law for other companies to ride roughshod over our way of life and fundamental rights to challenge injustices. Who will clear up the mess left by these tax evading companies who are now trying to deny the citizens from opposing? These questions are real and go to the heart of some of the biggest troubles of our times.

The injunction itself cannot and will not be left unchallenged. Joe Corre and I will be filing an application for permission to appeal. Like many before us who have endured many struggles to earn these rights, including two world wars, we must do the same. The support of everyone concerned with the future and direction of our country can support the case at: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/fracking/

  • Joe Boyd’s thoughts are an edited version of a longer article which can be read here (pdf)

26 replies »

      • A very well thought out response, Refracktion. Fracking has been such a failure in the US that it has only created billions in wealth and currently produces around 2/3 of gas consumed. Some black hole, huh?

        • Yes, but only big bucks for those who know how to game the investment cycles or those who own huge tracts of land and have gained good royalty deals from licensing the mineral rights. For many of the rest (the majority) – they are hurting from the impacts and they will be picking up the price in terms of health and environmental impacts for years if not generations even to come. That’s before you even mention the methane emission impacts on climate change. You just needed the bigger picture EKT for some context.

          • So, Philip, is your contention that the majority of the population in the US are not invested in the market through 401k plans and other savings mechanisms? I was under the impression that they were. I was also under the impression that the majority of Americans use natural gas for electricity and/or heating, and would have benefited from a 50% reduction in gas prices. And are the majority of Americans not benefiting from the reduction in co2 and particulates that has cleaned our air and has allowed the US to dominate the industrialized world in emissions improvements? How’s that for “bigger picture” my good friend?

            • Eatkaletoday

              As you make reference to CO2 emissions in the US .

              With methane leaking like a sieve from all parts of the Fracking process in the US.

              Let’s remind ourselves how dangerous methane is for climate change compared to CO2.

              Methane is roughly 86 times as potent as carbon dioxide ( CO2 ), as a driver of climate change over a period of 20 years.

              Or 35 times as potent over the span of a century.

            • Is ‘under the impression’ a good argument EKT? No, evidently ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-21/two-thirds-of-americans-aren-t-putting-money-in-their-401-k ). Is that 50% natural gas price reduction that you are ‘under the impression’ about to the actual consumers? What is your source for that? Methane emissions from the new and relatively unregulated shale-gas revolution, where the large scale HVHF commercialization only really kicked in around 2008 has meant US contributions to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has been on steroids with methane being 80 time more powerful a ghg than CO2 (for its first 20 years). Now that its oxidation into CO2, becoming more pronounced after nearly 10 years, we’re seeing an upswing in global CO2 again. There’s a surprise. Have you factored in the costs of the worst climate related season of wildfires and floods that most Americans can remember? How many more seasons like that can the population stand?

              How’s that for a still bigger picture my friend?

  1. Perhaps the “big backers” will cough up for the costs of the last hearing? Seems fracking is producing some income even before it get’s going.

    “protecting British Law”??? Really? It is British Law that has stated quite clearly that it will not accept unlawful behaviour being incited to prevent lawful activity.

    Perfectly reasonable, and supported via thousands of pages of evidence,many hours of videos and hundreds of arrests that the antis have supplied for the law to observe.

    Self inflicted.

    • What utter tosh martin.

      No, this has been inflicted by this invading industry.
      They caused this situation.
      They are the ones who tried to crush protest in this country.

      Look at the slavery freedom movements, the women’s emancipation movements, protests all over the world to protect peoples rights and prevent the rise of totalitarian dictatorships.

      This industry have only experienced a mild shadow of what has been done against invaders in the past.

      But rather than stand up for themselves like honourable people they run cap in hand like cowards to the government to get them to slide out from under public protest and county council planning and public consultation.

      What a pathetic farce!

      Even more disgustingly cowardly they run in secret to the law courts to take out an In Junk Sham to prevent even the legal rights protest that they have refused to face like men.

      They are typical cowardly bullies, they are too scared to face up to anyone. They are a sick joke, painted pennywise clowns concealing their true pred-a-tory nature.

      They tried to prevent anyone even writing anything to express protest!

      Only a cowardly invading dictator would even consider such a move, at least that was overturned.

      They have declared themselves the enemy of everyone in this country, they only have themselves to blame.

      Nothing good will come of this cowardly invasion.

  2. You know they’re clutching at straws when they try and turn a huge loss into a win! The only thing that was removed was the ‘harassement’ clause and that was simply because it would be near impossible to police, it wasn’t a win it was just common sense. Up till this point the antis have lost every single major court case!
    As for some “major backers”, I doubt they will match Ineos’ finances, I suggest googling their turnover and profit just to put things into perspective, I would also google how many jobs they support from top to bottom level. Those kind of figures give you real clout. The UK is going to tank dramatically due to poor leadership and Corbyn preaching utter nonsense. We need a stronger opposition to hold current govt to task, I would bet a lot of money if we had a ‘New Labour’ type person at the helm of Labour they would be destroying the Tories. Unfortunately the loony left have infiltrated the Labour party so deep that this is going to prove very difficult. As long as Corbyn and his fairyland politics are being taken serious this country will continue to spiral downwards.
    All people in general care about are jobs, money and health and right now neither party has any answers.

    • Rubbish peeny, this attempt at overturning UK Law has exploded in their face and rightly so.

      And will keep on exploding in their face at every turn until they run away with their tail between their legs.

      All they have done is to show themselves up as the pathetic puffed up bully boy little tin pot gods that they are.

      You can sit there 4000 miles away and crow and crow and crow all you want, it will do you no good.

      We will deal with this invasion just as we have dealt with every other invader, whether they hide behind secret government locked doors or offshore tax haven based corporate board rooms.

      They have proved themselves the enemy of every man woman and child in this country and that will never be forgotten.

      Pontificating from 4000 miles away does not have any relevance whatsoever, and never will do.

  3. GBK-the sympathy vote is what the antis are after.

    Well, I do have sympathy for the locals with genuine concerns, but the whole agenda has been hijacked. Those locals are not even allowed to engage in meaningful dialogue with the exploration companies. As soon as it is attempted, the debate is shouted down by those who want to enforce their agenda. And then they refer to that as democracy.

    Drizzle cake to death threats in less than twelve months -and that is seen as progress!

    It is the way these things go and with no control over events, it needs others to supply those controls. I suspect the vast majority of locals to any site will welcome the fact their communities will not have to put up with the anti social activity that has been occurring elsewhere and it may give them the opportunity to engage with Ineos etc. and produce development plans that meet both parties requirements.

    • No industrial invasion.
      No protest.
      No private corporate high jacking our publicly funded police force.
      No high jacked secret courts.
      No In Junk Sham.

      No problem.

      Trying to turn the attention away from the invading unwanted arrogant contemptuous incompetent unregulated operators and back onto the smokescreen and mirrors of protest will do you no good at all.

    • ‘Drizzle cake to death threats in less than twelve months -and that is seen as progress’

      Couple of other things

      North sea output rise and offshore tax beaks. Renewable prices plummeting. Appetite for Carbon capture and storage dwindling. Battery storage proving commercial viability and doing well at auction. Government surveys proving fracking not wanted. Scottish ban. Oil and gas prices plummeting (thanks Donald). Government stance on fracking weakening. And so it goes on.

      And still no dirty, expensive, intermittent, UK shale gas.

      The writing is on the wall.

      I suspect those who don’t turn their boilers on because the gas may come from Norway may have to sell their all English Morris Marina’s to claw back some of their money they have lost on that UK shale non starter ‘Sad Ken’

      I have put ‘intermittent’ so you can ignore the rest of the facts in the post and try to wander off onto something else.

  4. “Oil and gas prices plummeting”-really??? On the rise again. Why? Thanks USA FRACKING, but now the USA frackers are happy to concentrate more upon margin rather than volume, and supply from Middle East has become much more insecure. Proves that energy security is vital for the UK, as such decisions are otherwise out of our control.

    Every anti post now, the fake news has become so obvious, and referencing as “facts” means nothing when anyone tops up fuel into their cars. Try bartering at the pumps, with “John says prices are plummeting!” No longer trying to promote a real position, simply to excite those who do not bother to research the subject themselves.

    • See Ian Crane’s video above Martin. At least he’s done some research on the waste disposal issue…. the issue both you and the proposals don’t have any science for but are happy to make it up as you go along . The most dangerous know-it-alls are those who convince themselves (and try to persuade others) that they’re the only ones in possession of the facts.

    • Gas prices set to fall even lower

      https://www.msn.com/en-gb/money/news/russia-warns-global-gas-oversupply-could-trigger-price-crisis/ar-BBFBdoW?li=AA54rU

      A reminder of a couple of other important things that have happened

      Statoil who supply us with the bulk of our imported piped gas asked major US fracking company Chesapeake to look into the viability of UK shale.

      Chesapeake concluded that UK shale was not viable.

      Statoil are not investing in UK shale.

      More recently Total who have invested a small amount in UK shale have sold much of it’s interest and are prioritising in offshore investment

      All the signs are there for a secure North sea and renewable energy future.

      Morris marinas converted to indigenous North sea gas or solar powered tesla batteries. There’s a thought for those who don’t like importing things from places like Norway or China

      .

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