Legal

99-hour anti-fracking protest “caused travel delays and cost £1,000s”, sentencing hearing told

pnr 170727 Nina Taylor3

“Lorry surfing” protest outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site near Blackpool. Photo: Taylor Made Films, 27 July 2017

An anti-fracking protest that lasted nearly 100 hours caused travel disruption and incurred extra costs for Lancashire Police and the shale gas company, Preston Crown Court heard this afternoon.

Four men climbed onto to the cabs of lorries delivering to Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool in a protest, known as lorry surfing. They each spent between 45 and 84 hours on the lorries, from 25-29 July 2017.

The four men have been convicted of public nuisance and were in court today to be sentenced. This is believed to be the first time people have been charged or convicted for public nuisance in connection with anti-fracking protests.

Simon Roscoe Blevins, 26, a soil scientist, from Sheffield, Richard Roberts, 36, a piano restorer from London, and Rich Loizou, 31, a teacher from Devon, had denied the charge but found guilty after a seven day trial. Julian Brock, 47, from Torquay, had admitted the charge at a separate hearing.

Craig MacGregor, prosecuting, told the court today that bus services and private journeys had been disrupted during the protest.

The lorry drivers were stuck in their cabs, unable to return home. They had given evidence to the trial that their sleep was disturbed and their families upset.

There was a significant increase in travel time and people living nearby found it difficult to get to their homes, Mr MacGregor said.

He described how on the first day of the protest one woman waited 45 minutes for a bus which did not arrive. Two days later, she caught a bus but on the way home it dropped her off short of her usual destination and she had to walk an hour and a half to get home. She was sick when she got home and had to go to bed.

Mr MacGregor added that police officers were taken off front line duties. The extra policing had cost Lancashire Constabulary £12,000. Cuadrilla spent £50,000 in extra fees, Mr MacGregor said.

The court heard that the protest began at 8.06am on 25 July 2017, when Richard Roberts climbed on to the first lorry in a convoy of eight delivering equipment to the Preston New Road site. At about the same time, Rich Loizou climbed on to the last lorry in the convoy.

“The A583 was brought to a stand-still in both directions”, Mr MacGregor said.

This is the main road from Blackpool to Preston and a “blue light” route for emergency services, he said.

At 3.18pm that day, Simon Blevins climbed on to the second vehicle in the convoy. Julian Brock climbed onto his vehicle in the early hours of the morning of 26 July 2017.

Police established a contraflow on the road, which remained in place until 27 July, Mr MacGregor said.

The court heard that the first campaigner to come down was Richard Loizou, at 5.10am on 27 July 20117. He had been on his lorry for 45 hours and 6 minutes. Simon Blevins came down at 4.45pm on 28 July after 73 hours and 27 minutes.

Richard Roberts came down at 8.13pm on 28 July, after 84 hours and 19 minutes. The final protesters to come down from his vehicle was James Brock, on 29 July at 11.35am, after 76 hours.

The total duration of the protest was 99 hours and 31 minutes. It is thought to be the longest single anti-fracking action in the UK.

The court heard that there are no sentencing guidelines for the offence of public nuisance and few legal precedents. Mr MacGregor referred to public nuisance cases where defendants were sentenced to prison.

The case was adjourned until 2.25pm today (25/9/2018). Submissions are expected this afternoon from barristers representing the four men. The judge, His Honour Robert Altham, suggested that sentencing may be delayed until tomorrow (26 September 2018).

Defence submissions: Campaigners wait to find out if they face jail for anti-fracking protest

Campaigners support four anti-fracking protesters at lorry-surf sentencing

Reporting on this case has been made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

 

28 replies »

    • Rachel you do not know what you have.
      Look around the world. Mess and suffering. Have a look at some documentaries on youtube about Democratic Republic of Congo. How people suffer there as theirs land has lots of natural resources and we steal those resources from them since decades causing people to suffer. If not this country we would not win IIWW and we would not have mobile phones. Yet, when we can have natural resources extracted here, you are against it. You prefer to take it from poor country, supporting oppressive governments, extraction in non environmental friendly way, pollution during transportation… So selfish and lazy way on looking at our planet. That is why they call you Nimby.

      • So, Tom. It would be wise to take a moment here and reflect.

        Why doe we have a better life than those you quote meanly?

        Because individuals have stood up to those who put themselves in authority and then exploit the humans around them.

        You would be better getting out to the Congo and doing something about it; you could start by not having a mobile or a laptop if you believe in that falacy; you could always yacht surf and force those who are actually causing the pain and suffering in the name of profit to bring it to the attention of the media, perhaps?

        All humans are NIMBYS; it’s called survival…….

      • You need to look around you and see all the products you have been buying from China. Then go on You Tube and look at working conditions in China.

        That is why I call people who fill their lives with Chinese made goods but suggest mining in the DRC is wrong…. hypocrites.

        Apologies to those who support shale, drive round in British made Morris marinas, live in UK willow framed huts, and only eat seasonal British grown food.

  1. With what the lorries were carrying they shouldn’t have been allowed to travel through the our countryside risking polluting it.
    The protesters should be venerated for there defence of the country

    • Helen – they will be “venerated” later today or tomorrow. Custodial sentences will be very saintly… They are not even from the area – the soil scientist will probably lose his job, the piano restorer should be okay assuming self employed, the “teacher” should be okay as the definition of teacher has been stretched a bit in this case.

      Lot’s of ammunition for the injunctions.

      Was it all worth it? I expect a lot of the locals who oppose this do not think so…..

  2. The trucks were going about their lawful business. They are working within a democratic society and if you cross this democratic line then you deserve punishment.

  3. I suppose Helen those lorries that carry nuclear material are so much better? The ones required to support the industry to support the intermittent renewables.

    Then we have those ships bringing in oil and gas to our country risking a maritime disaster. We should take the risk of adding that to the plastic?

    But then, as any lorry travelling through our countryside is polluting it, difficult to know where to start.

  4. Usual convoluted and meaningless arguments from the pro-frackers. Google “fracking” + “vested interests” together – see what comes up, shocking.

    Oh, and nuclear power industry has huge & thorough safety measures in place Martin; fracking has the understaffed, overstretched, incompetent EA who have pension funds invested in Barclays; plus of course we have the fracking companies monitoring themselves … how reassuring – not.

    Well done the protesters.

    • Enemies of Industry, Greenpeas, the “fashion” industry …. No doubt there are more ready to chuck their money away. Or even the tax payer???

  5. Gottabekidding and Paul Tresco, is it possible you two work out of the same office by any chance? Either Cuadrilla themselves or just a mercenary P.R. Company for the Fossil Fuel industry?

    One thing for sure you and your families don’t live in Lancashire near one of the proposed fracking sites!

    Also for sure neither of you have children attending any of the schools just downwind of these fracking sites!

    These people must be at their wit’s end hoping that the Establishment will keep their children safe which evidence from experiences in America will sadly not be the case!

  6. Let’s hope they get substantial custodial sentences to deal with these people who think that they can inconvenience who ever they choose whenever they choose, and that they are compelled to repay the costs the all concerned suffered as a result of their actions

  7. “They are not even from the area” – is that a reference to most of the Cuadrilla staff. Francis Egan (Irish) lives in Cheshire (not Lancashire), Phillip Arnall (Australian) lives in Australia, Neville John Lancaster Jnr, (USA) lives in USA, Mark Lappin, lives in Scotland, Ivor Raymond Orchard, lives in Hong Kong. A couple of the security guards probably hail from the local area. The rest of Cuadrilla is the True Traveling Circus!

    • ‘They are not even from the area’

      The Becconsall site has just been restored after LCC refused Cuadrilla’s last planning application. Fox demolition were contracted to do the groundwork and restore the site after it was plug and abandoned. Fox is based in Leicester.

      There is a commercial groundwork contractor who completes projects much larger than the Becconsall restoration less than 3 miles from the site. There are dozens of other contractors in the area.

      Yet Cuadrilla chose a Leicester based company. How thoughtful.

      No work for HSE site inspectors either. They never visited the site once during plug and abandonment.

      How ‘Gold Standard’ is that.

      • The planning application was to do the abandonment, which has now been done. Does this “local” contractor have a suitable rig to do an abandonment in a 2000+m well?

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