Three campaigners freed today by the Court of Appeal have called on people to join a mass demonstration outside the UK’s first shale gas fracking site for seven years.
Richard Roberts, Simon Roscoe Blevins and Rich Loizou were released from Preston Prison this afternoon after three appeal court judges described their jail sentences as “manifestly excessive”.
They had been sentenced to 15-16 months after being found guilty of public nuisance. They had taken part in a lorry surf protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool that lasted a total of 99 hours.
Speaking outside the prison this afternoon, Rich Loizou said:
“Today’s decision affirms that when people peacefully break the law out of a moral obligation to prevent things such as the fossil fuel industry, they should not be sent to prison.
“The fracking industry threatens to industrialise our beautiful countryside. It will force famine, flooding and many other disasters on the world’s most vulnerable communities by exacerbating climate change.
“Fracking is beginning right now. So there has never been a more critical moment to take action. Your planet needs you.
“We encourage everyone is who able to, to join us this Saturday for a mass demonstration at the UK’s first fracking site next to Blackpool. And to look up activist network Reclaim the Power to find opportunities to take direct action or volunteer in vital support roles.”
Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation at Preston New Road near Blackpool had already planned a National Climate Crisis Rally outside the site on Saturday 20 October 2018 to mark the start of fracking.
Before the men’s release, supporters gathered outside the prison as news reached that the Court of Appeal had quashed the jail sentence.
The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Ian Burnett, sitting with two other judges, said:
“In our judgement the appropriate sentence which should have been imposed on the 26th of September was a community order with a significant requirement of unpaid work.”
He said the men had already spent three weeks in prison, which is the equivalent of a six-week sentence:
“As a result of that we have agreed that the proper sentence is a conditional discharge for two years.”
The decision has been widely welcomed by environmentalists, politicians and campaigners. See DrillOrDrop report
A news conference is scheduled for 10.30am tomorrow (18/10/2018) by the three men, outside Preston New Road. While they were in prison, on Monday 15 October 2018, Cuadrilla started fracking at the site.
The National Climate Crisis Rally is due to take place between 12 noon and 2pm at the Maple Farm Community Hub on Preston new Road.