Two sisters given absolute discharges after guilty verdicts for obstruction at a shale gas in Nottinghamshire have likened their anti-fracking actions to the votes for women movement.
Val Mager (69) and Patsie Harper (62), long-standing opponents of the onshore oil and gas industry, had been arrested in March 2018 outside the IGas site at Misson.
After their trial last week, they complained that the right to protest against fracking was being eroded. They drew comparison with the suffragette movement and vowed to continue non-violent actions.
In a statement they said:
“The development of wide- ranging injunctions by the industry, the actions of Nottinghamshire Police and the government permission for fracking in Lancashire suggest an increasingly hostile environment for anti-fracking activists.
“We believe standing by the road with placards once a week is not sufficient.
“The erosion of democratic rights to protest inevitably leads to consideration of the lessons of the Suffragette campaigns of the last century.”
They told Mansfield Magistrates Court they had used conventional democratic methods and legal rights to oppose what they said were the threats from fracking to the environment and water supplies.
Their lawyer, Helen White, said:
“Civil disobedience has a long and honourable history in this country. People who break the law to affirm their belief in the injustice of a law or Government action are sometimes vindicated by history. The suffragettes are an example of this and in my respectful submission only time will tell whether these defendants will be vindicated in the same way”.
The sisters were found guilty of obstruction but the magistrates gave them both absolute discharges, where no further action is taken by the court, with no costs or fines.