Legal

Breaking: Judge grants Cuadrilla injunction over Lancs fracking site to 2020

180531 Cuadrilla injunction 2 Steve Speed

Anti-fracking campaigners outside Manchester Civil Justice Centre, 31 Mary 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

A High Court judge has granted Cuadrilla its injunction against specific anti-fracking protests around its shale gas site near Blackpool.

The injunction outlaws direct actions including trespass, slow walking, lock-ons, obstruction of the highway and lorry surfing at and near the Preston New Road site

It also prohibits interference of named companies that supply the site.

The injunction replaces an earlier order against trespass at Preston New Road and will last until 1 June 2020.

Judge Mark Pelling QC said of the injunction was needed because people who had previously protested at Preston New Road had moved to other shale gas sites.

“This suggests that without the order in place, such people would return to the PNR site and resume the unlawful activity that gave rise to the application in the first place.”

He said of the order:

“[it] strikes the correct balance between the rights of the company and the protesters because protesters have been able to protest including gathering on the highway and, gathering in the bellmouth for public meetings, albeit for limited period.”

He said:

“The claimants [Cuadrilla[ fear that without the protection of the order sought there would be an upsurge in protest activity in September 2018 when fracking is due to commence and thereafter with flow testing of gas commences

“These fears are well founded.”

Judge Pelling rejected arguments made at a hearing yesterday by two anti-fracking campaigners that there was no imminent threat and that action over unlawful acts should be left to the police. He also rejected their concerns that the injunction was against “persons unknown” or that it also applied to members of Cuadrilla’s supply chain.

He made small changes to the wording of the order.

At yesterday’s hearings, the campaigners also argued that Cuadrilla’s evidence was inaccurate and exaggerated. They also said the injunction breached human rights and was already having a chilling effect on the behaviour of people opposed to shale gas developments.

One of the campaigners, Bob Dennett, accused Cuadrilla of manipulating evidence to make it appear that a temporary injunction issued on 1 June 2018 appeared to have worked. He also described some of Cuadrilla’s statements about protester activity as “largely just allegations, conjecture, exaggeration, hearsay and rumour and, in some instances, outright lies.”

Ian Crane, the other challenger, described the injunction as an abuse of process that undermined democracy. He said:

“If granted it takes the regulation of freedom of expression and association into a whole new area with severe wide-ranging restrictions.

“If there is to be no opportunity to express concern, beyond standing on the side of street waving a banner without the penalty of losing assets or liberty, this should be put before parliament. It should not be put before a civil court.”

Yesterday, Tom Roscoe, for Cuadrilla, described the injunction as a:

“just and convenient and a proportionate interference with the protestors’ human rights.”

He said the temporary injunction had resulted in “no diminution of the ability of peaceful law-abiding protesters to assemble outside the Preston New Road site”.

But he said without the injunction

“protesters will seek to disrupt, delay or prevent the attainment of those milestones by the same sorts of unlawful acts which have been deployed in the past.”

Cuadrilla did not seek costs against Mr Crane and Mr Dennett. They did not seek to take the injunction to trial. But anyone could do this at any time between now and 2020.

  •  DrillOrDrop report on reaction to the Cuadrilla injunction ruling
  • A similar injunction granted to Ineos is to be challenged by two other campaigners at the Court of Appeal in March 2019. A deputy High Court judge is considering a further injunction application by UK Oil and Gas with a ruling expected in August 2018 (DrillOrDrop report).

Links

DrillOrDrop report of yesterday’s hearing (10/7/2018)

DrillOrDrop report of first hearing (31/5/2018)

Link to Cuadrilla injunction documents (Dropbox)

Green and Black Cross guide to injunctions

Reporting on this case was made possible by individual donations to DrillOrDrop

39 replies »

  1. No doubt the UKOG injunction will succumb to the same outcome. [Edited for legal reasons] have a lot to answer for. There is no doubt they are working on behalf of the state to secure injunctions. You only have to sit in on these cases like I have on two of them.

  2. Not yet, flfs!

    I think we disagree on some things, but I am with you 100% on this. A few voices were raised about consequences of individuals and some activist groups actions a long time ago, that were likely to constrain the ability of those with genuine concerns to be heard.

    The response? Simply a constant fog produced by a few to excite others, ignoring what the result was going to be. These few will now claim that democracy and human rights have been impacted by the action of the State, ignoring that the State will control activity where groups or individuals refuse to do so. I do go on about the two thirds, but some ignore that the majority do not want to be associated with such activity.

  3. Does that include the Human Rights of the Cuadrilla workers and suppliers who have been subject to harassment and insults in the name of “protest”.

    Also does it include the Human Rights of ordinary consumers to a safe, clean and secure gas supply at a price which will not drive them into fuel poverty.

    Frack on and keep the people warm.

    • Any gas that they retrieve (which is doubtful) will be sold to the highest bidder. It certainly won’t solve fuel poverty issues so that is a discursive comment. Human rights as consumers is also discursive for the same reason.

  4. When you get people acting as a self proclaimed leader you will get led to the slaughter by such people. Human rights is an individual right to be protected by individuals. The day you give that individual right away, you hand your human right to the state.

  5. The protests have brought more publicity to the devastation unconventional gas extraction brings everywhere it has been done. The resistance has grown to the point that Conservative as well as Labour Lib Dem SNP and Green MPs don’t want fracking, and are asking the awkward questions. Everyone in politics now knows fracking is toxic: with a hosepipe ban due shortly, Greg Clark won’t want a million gallons of fresh water per frack on his record, so he will delay (perhaps indefinitely) permission to frack. Will this be the year fracking is buried? It is looking increasingly so. This injunction is a pyrrhic victory indeed, there are plenty more ways to stop this industry, and those other strategies are now bearing fruit. Knowledge combined with passion and a thirst for justice. Where there is injustice, there is protest.

    • I like your sentiment Ian but sooner or later people will realise these injunctions have little to do with fracking but a much wider picture. Your right though it was a victory but that victory could only be viewed by those in the court. [Edited by moderator]

  6. Seems there are a few self proclaimed leaders who find your comments too close to home flfs!

    Interesting though, when you observe the posts of these spls over time, you realise they are somewhat lacking in knowledge but continue to post assuming others won’t notice. When “leaders” show that, then they live in a fantasy world.

    “Everyone in politics now knows”. No, they don’t which is why it is about to happen. “Knowledge”? No, not that.

  7. Jolly good and of no surprise. The antis lost when the militant lefties from London arrived on the scene.
    All court action will go against them as it has done up to now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.