The shale gas company, IGas, has been criticised for treating communities with “disrespect and contempt” after serving a High Court injunction on two residents’ groups.
The injunction, granted earlier this month, was designed to outlaw what were described as “unlawful” protests at IGas sites in Nottinghamshire and Cheshire. (DrillOrDrop report)
The draft order identified “organisations, groups and individuals believed to oppose the Claimants’ activities” at Springs Road, near Misson, Tinker Lane, near Blyth, and Portside in Ellesmere Port.
The list included Misson Community Action Group (MCAG), a residents’ group established to provide information about local issues of concern.
MCAG is a member of the Springs Road community liaison group, set up as a condition of planning permission for shale gas exploration at the site. The order was sent to Jayne Watson, the administrator of MCAG’s Facebook page, who is also chair of Misson Parish Council.
The other group was listed via its domain name, TinkerLane.co.uk, the website for the Tinker Lane community liaison group. This group was also established as a condition of planning permission.
In a letter to IGas, Mrs Watson said she was “appalled to be a sent a copy of the High Court injunction”. DrillOrDrop understands that IGas has also received complaints from people associated with the Tinker Lane community liaison group.
This evening, IGas solicitors, Fieldfisher, told DrillOrDrop it had written to Mr Justice Morgan, who granted the interim injunction. The letter said IGas had no objection to the groups being removed from the order.
The injunction prompted anger among people living near the IGas sites in Nottinghamshire. Mrs Watson told the company’s chief executive, Stephen Bowler:
“It appears that you have given up on building positive relationships through effective community engagement and you have decided as an alternative, to employ this clumsy and insensitive strategy in order to suppress the opposition.
“You are treating people and communities with disrespect and contempt by attempting to put a slur on certain individuals and groups in order to undermine and discredit them.
“In this case, you have failed miserably with your community engagement through this heavy handed tactic that is designed to threaten and intimidate ordinary people.”
Mrs Watson added:
“MCAG has been effective in disseminating information from the CLG about progress at the exploratory drill site on Springs Road for several years.
“Many people who access the MCAG pages do so because they wish to obtain information about your activities.
“They are not necessarily anti or pro fracking but merely wish to remain informed. By naming this group in the injunction, you are targeting the very community that you are endeavouring to engage and are deterring some individuals from freely expressing any negative opinions about your development for fear of repercussion. How can we have any measure of trust and confidence in you as an industry when you behave in this way?”
Mrs Watson’s letter was posted in full on the Misson Community Action Group Facebook Page.
In today’s letter to Mr Justice Morgan, Fieldfisher also said it would remove the statement that the groups were “believed to oppose the Claimants’ activity at the sites”.
- DrillOrDrop.com was also listed on the draft order. We asked Fieldfisher and the court to remove our name. Fieldfisher’s letter to the judge said IGas had no objection to this either.