Legal

Judge grants temporary injunction against protests at Lancashire fracking site

1806 green party week

Green Party protest outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. Photo: The Green Party

Cuadrilla has secured a 40-day injunction against protests at its fracking site near Blackpool.

A judge at the High Court in Manchester allowed an application by the shale gas company to prohibit trespass and obstruction at and near the site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

His Honour Judge Pelling QC also approved the company’s request for an order preventing unlawful interference with contractors and suppliers.

The injunction is now in force and will last until a two-day hearing due to end on 11 July 2018. This will examine Cuadrilla’s application in more detail.

It covers the Preston New Road site and a section of the A583 from 50 metres east of the site entrance to the junction with Peel Hill (near the M55 junction 4).

It also applies to the site entrance, known as the bellmouth, which is regularly used for rallies and speeches by campaign groups, trades unions and politicians.

The order additionally covers the premises of 19 named companies. These include the equipment supplier P R Marriott Drilling, the haulier Grampian Continental, Peter Marquis Contractors, Lytham Skip Hire, Standard Fuel Oil Ltd and Greens Environmental Ltd, as well as 11 companies in the Cuadrilla group.

180406 Funeral Friday Refracktion 1


Funeral Friday protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 6 April 2018. Photo: Refracktion

The order specifically prohibits a range of anti-fracking protest techniques including:

  • Blocking the site entrance
  • Slow walking
  • Lock-ons
  • Climbing on to vehicles

People who breach the order could be found to be in contempt of court and may be at risk of a prison sentence, fine or seizure of assets.

Cuadrilla told the court yesterday that it faced an “imminent threat” from a planned blockade of the Preston New Road site at the end of June, promoted by the national campaign group, Reclaim the Power. DrillOrDrop report

A group of four anti-fracking campaigners sought to challenge the injunction, which was originally against persons unknown.

Yesterday, they questioned whether the evidence provided by Cuadrilla justified the injunction. They argued that the company’s proposed order would be an abuse of human rights and that the injunction should not have been brought against “persons unknown”.

But Judge Pelling rejected their challenge. He said Cuadrilla had provided evidence that there was likely to be “a significant increase” in protest activity. The company had referred to an escalation in direct action at Preston New Road and supply companies during last July’s Rolling Resistance campaign supported by Reclaim the Power.

Judge Pelling said:

“That conduct has involved in the past, and is likely to involve in the future, behaviour including locking on to gates, obstructing entrances, slow walking and interfering with vehicles travelling to Preston New Road.”

He said there had been “substantial interference” to people using the A583. Referring to comments from the local chamber of commerce, he added:

“That activity has in the past resulted in damage to local businesses.”

He said he was satisfied that Cuadrilla’s case had passed a test in the Human Rights Act. This restricts granting of this type of interim injunction unless it was likely to succeed at trial.

But the judge required the company to change some wording of the injunction order. This would, he said, focus the injunction on specific unlawful activities.

He also said the order should apply to actions against the supply chain only if it could be proved beyond reasonable doubt that they were intended to cause delay or inconvenience to Cuadrilla.

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Emma Thompson at a Women in White protest at Preston New Road, 21 March 2018. Photo: Refracktion

A weekly Women in White procession and gathering at the site entrance on Wednesday was excluded from the injunction.

After the hearing, Cuadrilla’s Chief Executive, Francis Egan, said in a statement:

“We are pleased that the High Court has seen fit to grant this interim injunction which provides further reassurance to our employees, contractors, and suppliers and the general public using the Preston New Road that they can go about their lawful business without intimidation and illegal unlawful blockades from activists.

“This injunction does not restrict lawful and peaceful protest but is an important deterrence against unlawful protest which we have witnessed to an extraordinarily degree high level at Preston New Road.

“Those activists that continue to contemplate persist in unlawful activity against us or our suppliers should strongly consider the serious penalties that a breach of this injunctions could bring.”

Ian Crane, the only one of the four challengers to the injunction in court today, said:

“This injunction hearing was primarily brought about as a direct result of pronouncements of intended actions. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, these pronouncements effectively gifted the unconventional gas industry the opportunity to seek a far-reaching and chilling injunction.

“While I would be the first to applaud direct actions and recognise the sacrifice of those who participate in direct action, I believe the key element is spontaneity and surprise. Sadly, pronouncements of intended action is regarded as an imminent threat and it is very difficult to challenge the industry’s request for an injunction.”

Mr Crane described the anti-fracking movement as “nothing if not creative”. He added:

“Anyone who participates in any of the proscribed activities must be aware that their assets and potentially their liberty are put at risk.”

A spokesperson for Reclaim the Power declined to comment.

The injunction application will be reconsidered at what is known as a return hearing on 10-11 July 2018 at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Bridge Street, Manchester M60 9DJ.

Links

The interim injunction order and other papers in the case will be available on Cuadrilla’s Dropbox page: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/isnre2562esz43h/AADxx_pbLq31WC8dyEA2M-71a?dl=0

Green and Black Cross has a downloadable guide to injunctions: https://greenandblackcross.org/guides/injunctions/


Reporting from this court case was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

106 replies »

  1. And for those interested in profitability, John-

    “Lancashire fracker hits profit after a decade”- The Times, 4th June 2018.

    OMG- a profit! Where’s Tesla’s??

    • “The shale gas explorer made a pre-tax profit of $5.2 million last year, its first in the decade since it was founded, after Centrica paid for $13.7 million of exploratory work.”
      (for those who can’t get past the Times paywall)

  2. Almost six days with hardly any wind!!!

    Go intermittent renewables Go…

    That’s for all you, let’s just put up more wind turbines to produce all our energy needs…

    Swansea tidal lagoon white elephant to be kicked into the long grass pretty soon also.

    For the record Gas keeping the Country running, again…

  3. Thanks Paul.

    Looks like those who were excited to think their obstructions were going to put Cuadrilla out of business forgot about the Centrica finance.

    • Yes Martin- that the British Gas bill payers are subsidising .. paying for exploration and appraisal costs of up to £60 million

    • Cuadrilla’s trumpeted profit has more to do with the hand out from Centrica than anything Cuadrilla have done. After all, aren’t the pro frackers always telling us that the exploration stage is all paying out and pay back will come later (they hope). Since Cuadrilla haven’t produced a puff of gas yet, where exactly has this profit come from? Could it be creative accountancy from their auditors, KPMG? That’s the same KPMG who were so soundly criticised by the recent Government Inquiry into the downfall of Carillion. KPMG’s auditing of Carillion was said to be complicit in the Carillion debacle. One MP commented that he “Wouldn’t trust KPMG to audit the contents of his fridge.”
      This sudden profit seems to,have come at a very convenient time. Just as Greg Clark is tasked with ascertaining if Cuadrilla are financially viable before granting their permit to frack.

  4. Yes, and the tax payers as a whole will be paying how much for nuclear on Anglesey, to support renewables, PhilipP? And the cost of that electricity will be how much to the bill payers? And the cost to the bill payers for the electricity from the Innogy site off Lincolnshire is how much?

    And what was the proposed cost to the tax payers for the Swansea Lagoon? And how much was the cost of the electricity from that?

    Looks as if we got a bit of a bargain at PNR! Only £millions, not £billions. What’s a few noughts, anyway.

    Wind power in Denmark? Maybe their turbines didn’t burn up when struck by lightening? Wonder who measured the pollution caused from that? Or the solar panels that caught fire-ditto?

    2015 now Jack. Soon be up to date. Is this the same anaerobic digestion that suffered liquidation, and a stink around who was going to pay for decommissioning? Heaven knows where the dairy product prices would end up.
    (Have you caught up with all those links I have given to you in the last 48 hours? Probably not-they will be like the NEVER links I gave you when we were chatting about the NT, when you couldn’t buy the Times, or look at it in a library or Giggle the author, who, as a freelance, was available outside the Times paywall. Now, I’m the age where the short term memory could be a bit iffy. Maybe the time to change your name tag Jack, to indicate a similar get out? Or, more communication with the other Jack?)

  5. FIRST OF ALL MARTIN

    DO YOU WORK for the Times Newspaper ???

    When I already, regularly purchase a daily newspaper, why would I want to go out and buy another, or go down to my local library to confirm something you have said ???

    WHY ???

    ALL OTHER PEOPLE on this forum provide links that we can all easily click on and more importantly are FREE .

  6. If you are unwilling to DYOR Jack, absolutely fine. But, perhaps not fine to then say someone does not supply you with references where you can validate what they say? Not really very adult to suggest someone is lying simply because you are unwilling to do some research to check whether that might not be the case. Easy to do on the Internet, but I would recommend you don’t try it down the pub. My helpful hint for today.

    Sorry it is so difficult for you to actually check information. (That explains a lot.) If you were really interested, you can access the information I have referred to without spending money. It just takes a little effort. (I did explain the route once to you, but you didn’t want to follow it.)

    You do remind me of the situation reported to me recently by an ex colleague. She was also a marketing professional, who moved from commerce to University lecturing, teaching marketing. At the start of every course year, she instructing the students how they should research a project as would be required by an employer, and warned them the simple solution of a quick Giggle would not be accepted. She then set the first project. The Chinese students did as instructed and trawled a wide source of information and produced complete reports. Many of the UK students totally ignored her instructions and produced a partial review, normally centred on Giggle, and most, pretty identical to each other. She simply, told them to re-do the project as originally instructed but to contribute twice the output, but their next work was not to be delayed as a result. They soon understood knowledge came after a bit of effort.

    Forgetting the “lecturing”, if you don’t bother to check the other teams results you will only end up believing your team are champions-but then, so will every other supporter. Cosy, but fantasy.

    No, I don’t work for the Times, but find it is the best out of a bad bunch to report a range of views and some decent actual news, and business news (sometimes they even beat DOD to a story!) Mind you, absolutely awful at anything to do with agriculture, as their politically motivated twaddle about chlorinated chicken demonstrated!

  7. Sorry Jack, missed you previous post.

    My, tongue in cheek, comment about dairy was a reference that we would harvest our grass for anaerobic digestion. Ermm-cows eat grass-largely! Check out supply/demand =price, economics. That should be available on Giggle. Mind you, with climate change, will there be grass? Well, yes probably in UK through other factors.

    Reference your question about Centrica, I would suggest their investment into Cuadrilla is not that significant to their future. I am not a British Gas customer as their service levels are pretty poor. But, then, so are most of the other energy suppliers, and they tend to move up or down the league table over time. I wouldn’t hang your hat on Cuadrilla packing up as a result of anything British Gas do, or don’t. Certainly, their finance is important currently, but not necessarily so going forward, and could quite readily be replaced. But, maybe it won’t need to be if production starts? If Mr. Musk can access $3 billion every now and again, and not make a profit, don’t see Cuadrilla have too many problems in that regard-yet. A number of uneconomic wells could change that-but that is the gamble these companies accept, and most of the investors also.

    Remember, some of your buddies were claiming INEOS were in financial difficulties only a matter of weeks ago, so I think premature excitement is not warranted!

    • ” Ermm – Cows eat grass ” good point MARTIN

      Please let me help you with your …..supply/demand = price, economics equation..

      You remember the millions of tons of Green waste ( grass, food waste ) that people up and down the country put in their green bins , which is collected weekly ???

      I hope that helps answer your equation ..

  8. MARTIN,

    I’m pleased to inform you that United Utilities Anaerobic digestion plant in Davyhulme , Manchester has been an amazing success … .. You will be pleased to hear that on the strength of this, £100s Millions is now being invested at other treatment plants to build many more id these Anaerobic Digesters.

    (1) Just think of all the jobs that this will create.
    (2) All that lovely free electricity.
    (3) Also lets not forget all the high grade Soil Conditioner that will be produced , ideal for farmers .

    Davyhulme makes advances with thermal hydrolysis

    http://wwtonline.co.uk/features/davyhulme-makes-advances-with-thermal-hydrolysis-

    HEY , and no need to worry about them nasty smells anymore. United Utilities have got that problem sorted as well with their new £ multi million filtration system .

    Innovative system to tackle odours at United Utilities, Davyhulme

    http://wwtonline.co.uk/news/innovative-system-to-tackle-odours-at-uu-s-davyhulme

    Looks like it’s a WIN, WIN for Anaerobic Digesters to me ………..

  9. Did you not see the recent pictures of wind turbines knocked over by storms, or on fire from lightening strikes, Jack? How about the solar panels which caught fire?

    Please re-do your work and take account of all sources.

    Just remember, the Internet is full of medical warnings concerning sexual activity. Perhaps the only answer is to ban it? Then the NHS would have no difficulties-as there wouldn’t be one!

    • Hey guys, quit this tit for tat [edited by moderator]; get out in the sun and enjoy the future. Put your proverbial feet up and join me in waiting for the big bang, shakey shakey! Poor Centrica, all that money down the toilet….

      Think MC on the wrong blog again sexual activity is not spelled f-r-a-c-k-ing.

    • MARTIN,

      The extrene rarity of Wind Turbines blowing over is an easily rectified ABOVE GROUND problem…

      A Government report shows that in the rare cases of Solar Panel fires, most have been caused by incompetent dummies fitting them.

      Solar PV fires predominantly caused by installer error, government report concludes

      https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/solar_pv_fires_predominantly_caused_by_installer_error_government_report_co

      LET’S NOW MEASURE FRACKING RISKS,

      WELL for starters,

      (1) The damage underground is irreversible. When pumping chemicals underground at 20,000 psi pressure, those chemicals will go all over the place …..( as a guide of pressure , your car tyre will be at about 32 psi ) ……. ( A ) Damage to underground water aquifer irreversible ..( B ) Chemicals leaching to surface , damage to farm land , agriculture irreversable, ( C ) Contaminated land , would pose a permanent risk for animals and humans .

      ( 2 ) When the structure of the capped WELL breaks down, you will have ENDLESS costs and problems for future generations.. ( One thing we can be certain of is the WELL structure WILL break down over time )

      EARTHQUAKES caused by Fracking are also a major problem .

      Fracking may have caused South Korean earthquake – study

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/27/fracking-south-korean-earthquake

      More Earthquakes May Be the Result of Fracking Than We Thought

      https://eos.org/research-spotlights/more-earthquakes-may-be-the-result-of-fracking-than-we-thought

      Many, MANY more links available, if more proof is required .

      • Also let’s not forget ,

        Possible contamination directly underneath people’s homes ..

        What are the possible health implications and fire dangers there ??

        What about insurance policies, will they pay out for such claims ??

        What about house values ?? Let’s be honest , who the on earth would want to live with their families, in close proximaty to a Fracking well ??

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