Legal

Breaking: three men jailed for 99-hour anti-fracking lorry protest near Cuadrilla’s shale gas site

pnr 170725 Reclaim the power1

Lorry surfing protest near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site on 25 July 2017. Photo: Reclaim the Power

Three men who took part in what’s believed to be the longest single anti-fracking protest in the UK have been sent to prison.

The packed public gallery at Preston Crown Court listened in silence as the judge sentenced Richard Roberts and Simon Blevins to 16 months and Rich Loizou to 15 months.

Women began singing as the men were led away. Outside the court, anti-fracking campaigners, some in tears, said they were devastated by the sentences. DrillOrDrop report on reaction

A fourth man, Julian Brock, who also took part in the protest was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.

The four had climbed onto lorries delivering to Cuadrilla’s shale gas site in Lancashire in July 2017 and stayed there for a total of 99.5 hours.

The three who received jail sentences are thought to be the first people to be sent to prison for taking part in a UK anti-fracking protest. The barrister for one of them said it was the first time that the law on public nuisance had been used against environmental campaigners since the Kinder Scout mass trespass in 1932.

Passing sentences on Mr Blevins, Mr Roberts and Mr Loizou, his Honour Judge Altham said:

“I do find they provide a risk of re-offending.

“Each of them remains motivated by unswerving confidence that they are right. Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions.

“Given the disruption caused in this case, only immediate custody can achieve sufficient punishment.”

He said the three would serve half the sentence in custody and half on licence.

Judge Altham said the protest had caused cost and disruption to Cuadrilla. But added:

“Other victims were other members of the public who had nothing to do with Cuadrilla or fracking, who suffered significant inconvenience which must have been considered by these defendants as justifiable collateral damage.”

The judge acknowledged that fracking was a “matter of legitimate concern”. He said:

“These defendants did what they did from sincerely-held beliefs and this does mitigate the sentence.”

But he said the three had crossed the line of what was acceptable protest by persisting in their action for so long. He said:

“No cause can trump every consideration and everyone’s rights.”

Mr Loizou, 31, a teacher from Devon, Mr Blevins, 26, a soil scientist, from Sheffield, and Mr Roberts, a piano restorer from London, had denied the charge of public nuisance but had been found guilty after a seven-day trial ending on 22 August 2018.

Mr Brock, 47, from Torquay, had pleaded guilty to the same offence at an earlier hearing.

The court heard that the protest, known as lorry surfing, started at 8.06am on 25 July 2017 when Richard Roberts climbed on to the first lorry in the convoy on the A583 as it approached Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site. He was followed soon after by Rich Loizou, who mounted the last lorry in the line.

Prosecutor, Craig MacGregor, said the A583, the main road from Blackpool to Preston, was brought to a standstill in both directions.

At 3.18pm on the same 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.

The men came down at different times, starting with Rich Loizou, at 5.10am on 27 July 2017. 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 protester 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.

Mr MacGregor had told the court that bus services and private journeys were disrupted during the protest.

Live maggots had to be barrowed to the World of Water business on Preston New Road. One woman had described how they had to wait for buses for 45 minutes, before giving up. 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.

Lorry drivers were stuck in their cabs, unable to return home, he said, although this was disputed by barristers for the four protesters.

Mr MacGregor added that the protest had cost Lancashire Police £12,000 and Cuadrilla £50,000.

One of the lorry companies involved in the protest said it would not deliver to the site again.

The protest took part during a month of actions co-ordinated by the national group, Reclaim the Power.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, for Richard Roberts, said the court should take into account the motivation of the four men and the fact that this was a political protest.

Ms Brimelow said the four were protesting not just for themselves but for future generations and the future of the planet.

“It is very important to keep very firmly in mind the context which is peaceful protest. The court should tread very carefully when dealing with public protest.”

She had referred to a ruling by Lord Hoffmann, who said:

“It is a mark of a civilised society that it can accommodate protest.”

She disputed that the protest had caused damage and said disruption was predominantly on the first of the four days. The traffic delays were caused partly by other protesters in the road, she said.

Richard Brigden, the barrister for Rich Loizou, said his client held genuine views that were not extreme:

“It is a view that in other European countries would be supported by the government”.

A group of around 60 anti-fracking campaigners gathered outside the court for the start of the hearing yesterday. Supporters of the four men said hundreds of online messages had been received.

Reaction coming soon

Reports from hearing on 25 September 2018

Prosecution submissions: 99-hour anti-fracking protest caused travel delays and cost £1,000, sentencing hearing told

Defence submissions: Anti-fracking campaigners wait to find out if they face jail for 99-hour lorry protest

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

Reporting from this hearing has been made possible by the donations of individual DrillOrDrop readers

Categories: Legal

133 replies »

    • Completely agree with you!
      A Fascist State ruled by the very temporary Tory party, only in power due to their bribery from public funds of the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland would you believe!
      They must be removed asap!

      • VOR
        I think it is safe to say that today is not the day the people of England will remember in any way shape or form in relation to becoming a Facist State.

        If anything, memory will recall a call for a general strike, an action seemingly intended by the proposer, to topple an elected government.

  1. Woohoo happy news, just a pity it wasn’t all four of them but still happy nonetheless.
    This was inevitable as far as I could see, the courts have realised you cannot deal with these type of people by handing out lenient fines.
    Although I doubt this will be large enough a deterrent for the proper commies it will make the majority think twice. Also gives the police a well deserved pat on the back for having to put up with this lots nonsense.

    • I must admit, its a surprisingly big sentence, but it is good that some proper punishment has been given out to those that have disrupted a perfectly legal and licenced operation. 20 quid is a joke. As to those who think that their health and the environment will be affected, please do some proper research. There are no issues at all (except for poor drilling practice) even in the US. All the supposed health scares have been shown to have no content. Even Medact admit their is no evidence.

      • I’m sorry but you are wrong. There are very real health aspects – google increased ethane levels + fracking + USA. My brother reports from QLD Australia that fracking in one area had to be stopped due to water contamination. I could go on but do YOUR research

      • Medact on their website https://www.medact.org/2016/resources/reports/shale-gas-production-in-england/ :

        Based on current evidence it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects. However, there is clearly potential for negative health impacts. In particular, there are risks of (i) adverse reproductive outcomes due to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, (ii) risk of respiratory effects resulting from ozone and smog formation, (iii) stress, anxiety and other psycho-social effects arising from actual and perceived social and economic disruption.

        See also: https://www.medact.org/2016/blogs/the-decision-to-frack-in-lancashire-shale-gas-is-unburnable-and-must-be-left-in-the-ground/

        • Paul you are the moderator or an anti posting.

          We all know you are both…

          Either be a moderator or poster…

          Or we’ll get Ian R Crane to spot chem trails for you to back your opinions up!

          • Hi Kisheny

            Johnson writes “Even Medact admit there is no evidence”.

            I have provided the link and actual quote which Johnson is referring to – not quite sure what the problem is with that…?

            I have also provided a further link from the Medact website in which one of their researchers lays out reasons for objecting to fracking in Lancashire.

            People can make up their own minds from the articles provided.

            • So please read it properly Paul.
              1. ‘Potential’ has no serious meaning. I potentially could be a serial killer.
              2. Endocrine disrupters are forbidden in UK law.
              3. PHE have no issues with the air quality concerns about ozone.
              4. Stress…. with the crap being spoken its not surprising!

            • Johnson

              You raised the Medact issue, writing “Even Medact admit there is no evidence”, but not providing the link where they said it. I added the actual quote, so people can see exactly what was said.

              I made no comment on the content of the quote,

              Once again I fail to see how providing the exact quote you were referring to is a problem for anyone.

            • Kisheny

              I’m afraid it is part of my job to supply source links for quotes that posters use.

              It is helpful if contributors can supply these links when attributing quotes and opinions to people and organisations, as then we can all make up our minds on exactly what was said.

      • JOHNSON,

        What planet are you talking about ????

        Here on mother Earth , the DANGERS of Fracking by the world’s leading Professors and Doctors of medicine , science and engineering , including those at NASA are indisputable …

        Shall I put my list up , one by one, so that you can explain how the world’s top scientisrs , working at places such as NASA, have got it all so wrong ???

          • Odd that multiple investigations the world over have found little concern about fracking and health isnt it. Scotland, the UK, many US states, states in Australia.

            There are no serious issues.

          • Jack
            Do you think there will be any temporary boom towns in the Fylde as a result of fracking? That is one of the points raised by in the link. Or some next to Rotherham for INEOS?

            I took that as a good indication that the writers had not bothered to think about it much, but just cut and pasted the issues in the US to the UK in order to show some concern.

            Maybe the boom towns of Aberdeen for the N.Sea oil and gas industry, or Grimsby for offshore wind ( or Gt Yarmouth ) may be worth looking at, or the boom town in Dyce, a collection of caravans popped up there for the building of the ( much delayed ) Aberdeen bypass, containing an itinerant workforce from all parts of the EU ( or the H2S and or any nuclear power station boom towns .. cross rail, any large building project, so on and so forth ).

            Difficult to have boom towns in a densely poulated country, nearly all the required expertise for the bulk of the work are local to the county, country or the EU. The last in the wilderness, so to speak, were built as part of the Scottish Hydro push after WW2. I do not recall much prostitution and so on mentioned but some drinking was probably in order ( and the workers were, once again, drawn from across Europe ).

            So…on that point, their research seems somewhat diliatory.

            That there will be more fumes from increased traffic and diesel generators is no doubt true, but that issue is not specific to any industry, be it fracking or tourism.

    • I think you should find out a bit more about the whole dirty business of fracking than you might realise we owe these folk gratitude for being brave enough to protest. Perhaps you don’t live in an area where fracking licenses have been granted. Or you are not bothered about poisoned water, toxic waste and high levels of ethane (greenhouse gas) in the air for your children and grandchildren. Suggest you google fracking and make a rational decision based on hard facts

      • Sue
        Re Ethane, that is specific to high Ethane associated gas in North Dakota ( as per linked reports here on DoDre Ethane spike ) and any Ethane Rich fracked has on the US. I have not seen any evidence that the Lancashire frack gas will be rich in Ethane. More methane will be released locally I guess.
        I live in an area where exploratory drilling is taking place for shale gas, and in the lee of two large coal fired power stations, near producing oil wells, next to a main road, within a few M of a high pressure gas main, near old mine workings etc etc etc.

      • Perhaps I do actually know a lot about the process, have an inside knowledge, and understand the real risks, and realise that you have been conned by a cynical green machine of disinformation? There is not a single case of deep fracking causing water pollution for instance.

    • GottaBKidding, your comment is a measure of you [edited by moderator]. You, like all the others who invest time, energy and money into this destructive and pointless industry have no real compassion other than for money. We, who have the compassion and level of understanding ‘backed up by many credible scientists and factual reports’ know that this industry is never going to produce the energy that this loony government claims it needs. Furthermore, those people have put their lives on the line for us and future generations. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE ENVIRONMENT ETC?????

      • Candour

        I am not sure that those who post on here against anti fracking activity ( the anti antis ) can be classed as lacking in compassion and doing nothing for the environment. Nor that lorry surfing relating to fracking or Weald oil is the true litmus test of environmental action.

        Better to have small families, give up the car, do not holiday abroad ( or travel just for fun ) and turn down the heat, live next to your work ( no matter how bad that may be ). Plus chop holes in gravel boards for those hedgehogs ( but not badgers ) to get from garden to garden ( other than those Gardner’s using slug pellets ).

        Indeed, the tourist industry is a prime example of the insane desire to ensure the planet heats up by going somewhere we do not need to go, by car or plane just to feed our crazy desire for experience. Not to mention how hotels and so on are heated.

        Yet the tourist industry is supported on this board by some anti frackers!

        Maybe when all transport and heating is renewable powered it will be ok?

  2. So, it’s official – protecting the planet IS now a crime. Absolutely disgusting. But time will vindicate these heroes as it has for everyone throughout history who has fought for a just cause. If proof was still needed that democracy no longer exists in England this is it. So unjust that these guys have been imprisoned in order to intimidate other protectors from peaceful protesting. A very sad day for all who have no other agenda than caring about the environment. It should be Francis Egan and the like, plus the PM and all the other politicians who have sanctioned this invidious form of energy that should be behind bars.

      • Brian; consider Martin Luther King’s thoughts – “….there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”…..Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application…..Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection”. Needs no gloss from me.

          • Give one single example of fracking polluting water Candour. Please be advised that Parker county, Pavillion Wyoming, and one other are due to poor drilling practice, poor cementation, cowboy practices that are not permitted in the UK, and are NOTHING to do with fracking

            • There are cases in Austrailia where water comes out of taps and has been set fire to, the river which was also set alight. there are no doubt numerous are others that don’t get reported, there have been earthquakes recently seismic activity around the Horse Hill area when there hasn’t been any activity in the area for hundreds of years. There is also the industrialisation of the greenbelt and the effects it has on wildlife.

              • Actually, the government moved the goalposts back in 2015 and determined fracking by water pressure and by the depth. So if a company, for example, uses say, 100 psi less pressure or drills 10ft less than the “governments definition” of fracking then it is not fracking…. Well, how odd that in twenty 11 the definition was different? “fracking is short for fracturing and acidising is fracturing is just another method used. The government changed the terminology to try and deceive folks. It is THAT simple.

            • Candor – not “that simple”. Most acidising is conducted below the fracture pressure – therefore no “fracking” by any definition.

              Acid fracture stimulations where the matrix fracture pressure is exceeded are fairly uncommon.

  3. Alan-we do get it. But our it is different to yours. You do not speak for everyone, neither do I. I am honest about that.

    You don’t have to go too far back to note individuals recommending breaking injunctions, some even stating initial penalties would be light. Well, some others have suggested those sort of suggestions are unwise. I wonder who would be seen as the caring individual in the wider community?

    Two thirds are not a minority.

    • [Edited by moderator] You accused Jono of being in a one-only situation yet all you say is 2/3rds support your view. What nonsense, especially as you don’t define the context. [Edited by moderator] You go out into the wider community and promote fracking. YOU go out and sample opinion. You will get short shrift here in Fylde, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

      • Martin is correct Alan. The last wave study showed that 32% oppose, 18% support, and 50% have no opinion. So thats 2/3rds that either support or have no opinion either way. Its difficult to see how that can be seen any other way.

        • Really? How about 32% oppose and 50% have no opinion so that’s a whopping 82% oppose or still 32% oppose and 50% have no opinion. Either way, there are 14% more opposed than support. You are in the minority whichever way you spin it.

        • And 4/5ths that oppose or have no opinion. Invariably those who find out the reality of this industry tend to oppose it. Those who live near the danger areas will know more about it than those who don’t, and opposition will be way higher than 50%. Lack of knowledge is all that is stopping a majority opposing this industry, and that includes this toxic undemocratic Tory nazzty party, which seems to delight in passing new legislation that destroys our society.

          • Well it has lead to a massive economic upturn in the US, with jobs, cheap energy for industry, and positives all around. Especially as it has reduced GHG emissions as coal has been displaced.

      • RELAX , TAKE IT EASY ………ALAN TOOTILL

        You know it , I know it , every man and his dog knows it …..

        If an industry can ONLY hobble along with INJUNCTIONS and draconian methods of pressure by a serving government …… Then you know the industries is FINISHED .

        Conservative party MPs are lining up against their own leader on this one. They are looking in to the dangers of fracking and are rightly so, guaging the public opinion. They to can see the writing in the wall for UK Fracking.

        For the several government ministers that are involved and their chums in the Fracking industry , this is just like a ” General Custers last stand ” .

        • No Johnson , by your calculation four fifths of the population are either against or have no opinion , so lets agree 32% oppose , 18% are for, you would no doubt take that if it were a BREXIT vote .

    • Free board and lodging!!! Are you for real? These people are professional people- school teacher and soil scientist and piano tuner. It’s come to something when the rights of a private corporation to pollute the earth and poison our water for their own profit- then not even pay tax in this country; come before people standing up to them to protect my and your children’s health. To protect the planet from the further effects of global warming. Don’t your children breathe air, drink water or eat food? Everywhere fracking has been done these things have been compromised. You can’t I poison the aquifer! That’s why it’s banned in so many countries across the world. Including Scotland. Wales, Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands to name but a few- Those brave principled men have been wrongly jailed for holding the same view on fracking that most other European countries governments hold. Don’t take my word for it – Google it!! It begs belief really that with all the evidence stacked against the toxic fracking industry, people still hold views like yours.

      • They haven’t been jailed for their views. They haven’t been jailed for protesting. They were jailed having been found guilty of being a public nuisance. They could have chosen to express their views or protested in many other ways and in doing so remaining on the right side of the law. They chose not to remain within the law and so a jury found them guilty.

      • They have been jailed for breaking the law, and attempting to stop people going about their lawful business, drillers and everyone else.

        The sentences should have been longer

  4. BURSTING AT THE SEEMS …….

    With jails bursting at the seems and prison staff unable to cope with the overcrowding …..

    WHERE WILL they find the room for these three ??????

    They certainly won’t be the last , people will not tolerate their families health being put at risk, or the wholesale destruction of their area by greedy self serving individuals who profit from afar .

    You’ve seen the on going determination by the people at PNR site against this type of industry.

    They’re going to have to build a lot more Prisons , or maybe they could early release some violant, psychopathic criminals to make room …

    Watch out retired nurses , serving tea and fairy cakes at fracking sites . YOU could be next to be jailed ……OH BOY can you imagine the financial cost in negative publicity for the Fracking industry and government if that ever happened. The media would have a field day with that one.

    What we have just witnessed here today , in part , is gesture politics at play.

    The Cuadrilla PNR site is a symbolic ” General Custers last stand ” for an industry that’s on its financial knees and the several government ministers who have tried in vain to push this on to an unwilling public for the last number of years.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again . WITHOUT PUBLIC SUPPORT , this industry will die a slow and painful, death by a thousand cuts .

    AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE ………… TO ALL 7 FOOT TEA LADIES ………….. Your exempt from all UK prisons .

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-26751400

    • We agree on something finally Jack. Personally I’d have these three doing hard labour to give something back to the country. That being said prison is not a pleasant experience by any means and I doubt these types of guys will have an easy time physically or mentally.
      This is why you shouldn’t break the law, simple.

      • I LIKE YOUR STYLE GBK.

        I agree with the hard labour and much tougher , less comfy prisons for hardened criminals, BUT ………

        The scare tactics you put forward, for the ordinary folks that are reading these posts and maybe thinking of getting involved in the anti fracking movement , I don’t think will work in this case ….

        YOU SEE , people , ordinary people that you see in the photos of anti fracking protest marches, ARE NOT the Swampies and Tree Huggers that some Pro Fracking members are trying to make them out to be ….

        These people and I have spoke to many are looking at this as a , Emmeline Pankhurst , British suffragette moment. They are willing to go to prison for their strong beliefs….. To lock up ordinary , upstanding members of the community will be deeply damaging in PR terms for the industry and deverstating for the ruling government regarding PUBLIC SUPPORT, TRUST and VOTES.

        • Think about it this way GBK,

          JUST LOOK at all the financial cost , time, effort , trouble , anger that has been brought about , over Cuadrillas PNR site .

          DO YOU honestly , in your wildest dreams , think any government or industry could possibly survive a forced rollout of the industry across the UK ?????

    • What about environmental law tom??? the rape and pillaging of our natural resources in order to get the last drop of oil out of the ground etc etc… who speaks up for that Tom? …YOU???????

    • Jono
      And the Guardian were fooled as well, if I remember a previous article here on DOD.
      Not that the chap had ever drilled a well. Seems he was a financial whizz kid of some type.
      But good to see him imprisoned for breaking the law

  5. Why should prison be expected to rehabilitate inmates away from standing up for their antifossil fuel beliefs?
    In a civilised society we are all entitled to stand up for our beliefs!
    So long as no harm is done to other citizens!

    • Candor, look back at your life and count how much garbage you produced. How many petro or disel you used, either by driving a car, bus, online shopping, deliveries or taking a plane for you holidays. How many plastic products did you use? How many are you using now? We all pollute the planet unfortunately as this is how our modern life is designed at the moment. We need to redesign whole modern way of living and to do that we need to get to politics and change it from this side. Having a small fight with private company somewhere in countryside will not change ANYTHING! You will only abuse Police services, and those are needed always somewhere else. But I understand you are not fighting about environment of the planet at all. It is about you, and your narrow view of your countryside. You prefer to have oil delivered to you from some poor country on the other side in the world, polluting the planet while delivered, and risking environmental catastrophe. And you need oil in your life, as it drives everything what you have. Your house to be build you had to have material and people delivered, the same with every single bit of thing you have in your life, even your lovely phone or computer you are using at the moment. So do not be hypocrite thinking that you do not need oil anymore. What we need is to find other way how to GOVERN our modern world. And to do that we need to have government who understand that. Thinking that you can separate yourself from oil is immature.

      • Yawwwwn yawwwn yawwwn… The usual argument of “you need oil for this… you need oil for that… Change the record dude! We all know that we need oil and gas for some time to come, but the truth is that going into this industry like this is totally nonsensical and absoloutly unjustified. We all know that this has never been about “energy security”. It is about profit and greed, The smart money is on renewables. We have been raping the planet of its natural resources for far too long, we know from the experiences from the US, Canada and Austrailia that it is a dying industry. This government and subsequent governments should be building more colleges like that of C.A.T (Centre for Alternative Technology based in Wales where they’re learning progressive invasions in renewable technologies.
        We have come a long way since the industrial revolution. Allowing this industry manifest is taking a giant step backwards.
        When people comment on this site in favour of this industry, they either have invested interests within the industry or simply too naive and blissfully ignorant… because whatever rhetoric you pro’s come out with, you know that this is simply and truthfully unjustifiable in these times.
        P.S, I live off-grid and have an electric car.

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