Opponents of oil drilling in Sussex and Surrey launched a crowd funding appeal this morning to challenge the High Court injunction against protesters sought by UK Oil and Gas Investments.
Members of the coalition organisation, Weald Action Group, gathered for the launch outside the UKOG annual general meeting in London.
Weald Action Group said the appeal would pay for the legal representation of six women from Sussex and Surrey who are challenging the injunction. At the time of writing (2pm) the appeal had raised more than £3,000.
Earlier this month, UKOG revised the initial injunction order. The company is no longer seeking to prevent people combining together by lawful means to damage its economic interests.
UKOG has also removed the Markwells Wood site in the South Downs from the list of four places named in the injunction. Planning permission for the site has lapsed and UKOG has been ordered to restore the site within six months. The order still applies to exploration sites at Broadford Bridge in West Sussex and Horse Hill in Surrey, as well as company headquarters in Guildford.
Weald Action Group said the current version still “severely restricts the right to legitimate protest and attempt to control activities on public highways”. The order proposed to prohibit campaigners from watching activities of UKOG or its suppliers.
The group said the injunction, if granted, could set a precedent for other oil companies across the country.
Spokesperson Lorraine Inglis said:
“The mood of the investors at the AGM seemed quite negative, with questions about poor performance at Broadford Bridge and enforcement at Markwells Wood. The answers seemed unsatisfactory.
“The injunction is another costly distraction for this troubled company. ”
Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East campaigner, said:
“We strongly support the stance taken by local people opposing UKOG’s attempt to use the law to stifle valid means of showing concerns about oil exploration. This proposed injunction is a serious attack on the rights of local people to protest and campaign against dirty fossil fuel operations.”
The High Court hearing on the injunction is expected to last three days and to take place in June.