Updated: Campaigners seek appeal against UKOG injunction

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Four of the six women who challenged the UKOG injunction outside the Horse Hill site today. Photo: Jon O’Houston, 3 September 2018

Update on 5/9/2018

The deputy judge hearing the UKOG injunction case has refused leave to appeal. A statement from the court sent on 4 September 2018 said:

“The Deputy Judge has now had the opportunity to consider the above two applications and he has decided that both applications should be refused.

“Due to pre-existing commitments, the Deputy Judge is unable to give the reasons for his decision today but, as he indicated yesterday, he intends to give the reasons by close of play next Monday.”

A statement from the six women who challenged the injunction said:

We are considering all of our options with our lawyers, bearing in mind that it is open to us to seek permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal

Campaigners have lodged an appeal against the injunction granted this morning to an oil company outlawing direct action protests at exploration sites. (DrillOrDrop report)

The High Court curtailed a wide-ranging order sought by UK Oil & Gas for two sites in Sussex and Surrey.

But it granted an injunction to outlaw trespass, obstructing entrances and the highway, slow walking, targeting contractors and locking on or climbing on to vehicles.

Friends of the Earth and six women who challenged the injunction applied for an appeal this afternoon to the judge who granted the injunction.

Mr Justice Male said he would give his decision within 24 hours and his reasons within seven days.

If he rules against an appeal, the challengers can apply directly to the Court of Appeal.

It looks likely that if approved, the appeal would be dealt with at the same time as one against an injunction granted to Ineos. That is due to be heard at the Court of Appeal in March 2019 and to cover similar issues.

Stephanie Harrison, for the six women who live near UKOG sites in Sussex and Surrey, said they would challenge the injunction on the following grounds:

  • The injunction is against “persons unknown”
  • The questions of whether there was an imminent threat or whether the injunction was premature
  • Whether human rights law had been correctly applied to sections of the injunction dealing with protest on the highway
  • The prohibition of people combining together to interfere with UKOG’s economic interests
  • The replacement in the injunction of a prohibition on “watching” by “loitering” with the intention of compelling actions.
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Opponents of UKOG’s oil activities at Horse Hill react to news of the company’s protest ijunction, 3 September 2018. Photo: Jon O’Houston

Dave Timms, head of political affairs at Friends of the Earth, told DrillOrDrop he was particularly concerned about this last-minute change. He said this could have a chilling effect on campaigning by Friends of the Earth members.

He added:

“We are seeking leave to appeal on some of the remaining aspects of the injunction, including persons unknown and the curtailment of protest through the banning of slow walking which has been found to be lawful in other circumstances.

“We also have a wider concern beyond this injunction about the direction of travel of the growing use of injunction against free speech by the oil and gas industry.

“There is a significant threat to the right of democratic protest and right to free speech.”

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

22 replies »

  1. Good to see that sense has prevailed in the prevention of criminal activity. Nobody minds banners being waved, singing and the like. Its the threats, intimidation, lorry surfing, and obstruction that are the issue.

  2. Seriously you all need to step aside from the horrible elements of the protests the other week. Disgraceful behaviour from folks who consider themselves to be friends of the planet. Be friendly with the protests and it’s fine [edited by moderator]

  3. If granted-March 2019!!

    The current work at HH will be complete by then and the whole thing academic.

    Meanwhile, UKOG can proceed with their authorised work. I think most will focus upon the reality rather than the process.

    • Hey John, is Refraction Anti fracking rather than pro Nuclear website? You know Mr Timms and Duncan Coppersthwaite pretty well don’t you?

  4. Wrong subject again refracktion. Blackpool or Brighton?

    Fracking is up north, this is down south. Not too confusing really, unless there are some out there to be confused.

    Even the survey shows not too many of them.

    • Can we just get this fracking thing straight? You are referring to the current UK Government definition of fracking which has been questioned many times and in many ways.

      Fracking has and will be done again in the South of England at volumes of liquid or gel which fall below this threshold, e.g. at Lidsey in 1987 a “gel frac with proppants” of 90,000 gallons was recorded by the operator. Bear in mind that this is a vertical well. The frack is not spread over a long distance, but concentrated in a small vertical section. A similar attempt at Horse Hill using fracturing pressure and proppants would not now be recorded as fracking due to the quantity of liquid or gel involved. The current favoured terminology is “conventional hydraulic fracturing” for “well maintenance”.

      Singleton X12 was designed for “massive acid stimulation” according to the CEO of the time. Acid Frack? Matrix acidising? or a little acid housekeeping? Again not remembered as Fracking despite the huge expansion of the natural fracture systems implied by the CEO’s phrase.

      Your definition of fracking is a fragile construction of expedience and self interest.

      Try looking at a tiger and saying its not a cat.

      Please restrict your wording to H.V.H.F. (High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing) with your Oop north Doon Souuth argument.
      What is the point of confusing people

      • Any evidence that fracking in any form (done to UK regulations) has caused any problems? The answer is there is no evidence.
        The acid is immediately ‘spent’ as it reacts quickly. Thats ignoring the fact that there is no driving force to raise material up in the well.

    • So, Martin, once again in your desperate attempt to justify your pitiful argument to support this ridiculous industry by getting caught up in the terminology. “Fracking / acidisation” it’s all bad no matter what name you give it, it’s unconventional drilling “fracturing” the rock with a drill and /or high-pressure water and toxic chemicals. What difference does it make whether or not it’s being carried out in the north, the south, the east or the west? This insanity to take every last drop of oil and gas out of the earth is scientifically environmentally and morally wrong, it is backwards thinking at the very least and environmentally and socially criminal at the worst.

  5. How can slow-walking be lawful? Try doing it in front of a police car with flashing blue lights and see how long you last.

  6. I’m going to perform a citizen’s arrest next time my elderly neighbour slow walks ahead of my car on her zimmer frame.

    Seriously, to slow traffic is minor and rather quaint, if safely performed, especially on a lane with clear sight lines such as at Horse Hill. It is a road which needs a traffic calming scheme. The speed and the lack of etiquette of the drivers going past the site security gates is both excessive and unlawful. Many of the businesses here are Equine based. It would be nice to be able to ride safely on this minor road.

  7. We had a case in NZ where activists damaged some spying equipment. Their defence was they acted in the ‘public good’ as the actions of the spies were against our friends. This might be a very good defence to use against fracking as the damage to the environment has been documented around the world. Well done for taking this action.

  8. “What is the point of confusing people”!!!!

    We know the answer to that Gregor, so no need for you to ask the question. Some are easily confused, the majority are not. But the some are needed otherwise there would be none.

    But you are entering dangerous ground. If you are successful at confusing a few you will find the majority will decide there is a lot of fuss about nothing as “it” has been so widely practiced already within the UK without an issue, so it is not worth getting excited about. You will find this road is a dead end.

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