Freed campaigners call for mass demonstration outside fracking site

181017 Preston release Eddie Thornton2

(left to right) Richard Roberts, Rich Loizou and Simon Roscoe Blevins outside Preston Prison, 17 October 2018. Photo: Still from video by Eddie Thornton

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.

181017 Preston release Eddie Thornton

Supporters of the three anti-fracking campaigners wait for their release from Preston Prison, 17 October 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

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.

37 replies »

  1. If they think their actions convicted by trial were peaceful and legal then let them repeat the same action again. Go ahead and repeat it again.

  2. Waffle-tell you what. You try ignoring an injunction that you suggest is toothless. You may just find Contempt of Court is an offence that is taken quite seriously. Meanwhile, you will encourage others to run that risk.
    You seem to conveniently forget these offences took place prior to the injunction.

    • Totally agree Martin An injunction is the law Or we would have mob law .At least it is keeping this up north .Instead of where sites companies that are doing no fracking only conventional drilling for oil for UK plc

      • As far as mob law is concerned, the Criminal Law takes care of that. The Cuadrilla injunction is Civil Law not Criminal Law. That’s why the police say they are not concerned with the injunction.

    • Ooh an op-ed in the Torygraph from man of the people Ambrose Evans-Piltchard, that will be a balanced piece that takes account of local views of those gritty inhabitants/receptors of the desolate North.

      Fortunately it’s behind a paywall so I was spared having to read it.

      The comments were huge fun though, like a climate deniers convention but with an extra dollop of scepticism for good measure.

  3. Really cant understand why any anti-frackers would turn up at PNR on Sat for some more self satisfying but pointless placard waving, Fracking has started so they will be in severe peril from pollution, earthquakes etc. Makes them either hypocrites or just ignorant to their own propaganda.

    • Hello Dominic, personally I do not consider myself to be ignorant, self-satisfied or a hypocrite.
      Some of us live here, and we still object to what is going on in the fields near our houses. We still want to show our opposition to what Cuadrilla is doing, and we are also worried about pollution to our water supply and about more of the earthquakes which we experienced a few years ago.
      Perhaps if a quiet field of cows near your house was rapidly turned into an industrial site, you might consider waving a placard too.

  4. I can’t believe that anyone in their right minds could be in favour of fracking. Either they are benefiting by some back hander/ have shares and hopes of financial gain. It is insane to poison the water which all life depends on. Anyone in their right minds must oppose it.

  5. For the seven million six hundred and fifty three thousand time, fraccing will not affect your water supply. There is no drinkable water under the Fylde west of the Woodfold Fault!

    • Daniel. If fracking is ever carried out commercially in this country there’s would need to be thousands of wells. A recent report estimated over 6000 or possibly double that number of wells to provide just half the gas we import. All of those 6000 or more wells won’t be situated West of the Woodfold Fault. Contrary to what we at PNR are accused of, we are not NIMBY’s simply concerned with our own area.

    • David Smythe Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at the University of Glasgow disagrees,with you Dan the Man, skip to 11.50 for a section on his interpretation of the geology under the Fylde, the Woodsfold Fault and historic non saline wells near PNR.

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