Six anti-fracking protesters locked themselves together outside Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking site this morning in the first challenge to the company’s protest injunction. Cuadrilla has said it is taking legal action against them.
The protesters described the action as “a deliberate attempt to highlight the abuse of the law by Cuadrilla”.
In a statement this afternoon, the company said:
“Cuadrilla can confirm that it plans to take legal action against six individuals who have unlawfully blocked the entrance of the company’s shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, Lancashire clearly breaching the terms of a High Court Injunction.”
Cuadrila was granted an injunction on 11 July 2018 (DrillOrDrop report) against a range of protest actions outside the site by “persons unknown”. It specifically outlawed trespass, lock-on, slow-walking and lorry surfing protests, tactics that have been used in anti-fracking direct actions across England. It also prohibited “unlawful disruption” of named Cuadrilla suppliers.
The company said the legal action was not designed to prevent peaceful legal protest. But opponents have said the injunction has constrained their right to freedom of speech and what they say is any sort of meaningful protest.
This morning’s protest began at 7am and at the time of writing was still underway.
Cuadrilla said the company continued to respect rights to peaceful and lawful protest but it said::
“The six activists involved in blocking the site entrance are specifically aware of the High Court Injunction and nevertheless continued to proceed with activity that breaches the terms of that Injunction.
Suppliers delivering to and from the site are currently being delayed as a result. Breach of the High Court Injunction is contempt of court.”
A spokesperson for the protesters said:
“We are using our enshrined-in-law human rights to protest, to challenge a polluting industry that holds no social license in our community.
“This industry has gone to extreme and expensive lengths to manipulate the law, via a court injunction, to prevent protest in meaningful forms. We’re here today to challenge that.
“Fracking has no residential support within the UK, with the government pushing it upon communities who have already said no.”
Cuadrilla was granted planning permission for drilling, fracking and testing for shale gas at Preston New Road in 2016 by the then Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, on the advice of a planning inspector. This decision overruled the refusal of permission by Lancashire County Council.
The statement from the protesters continued:
“Why should a national government overrule local governments, to force this industry on communities?
“Why has the law been misused for the benefit of wealthy corporations? There has to be a strong line drawn under such abuses of law and democracy: this today, is our line.”