Six women have won the right to appeal against an injunction on direct action protests at oil sites in Sussex and Surrey.
The injunction was granted by the High Court to UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) in September 2018. It outlawed a range of protest activity, including trespass, obstruction of entrances and the highway, slow walking in front of vehicles, targeting contractors and locking on or climbing on to vehicles.
The women, who live near the UKOG sites at Broadford Bridge and Horse Hill, include the actor Sue Jameson, a therapist, green campaigner and a retired deputy head teacher.
They had argued that the courts should not make blanket bands on protest actions. Their barrister, Stephanie Harrison QC, described the draft injunction order as “excessive and intrusive”.
DrillOrDrop understands that the women were granted permission to appeal on all five grounds they sought:
- The injunction is against “persons unknown”
- The questions of whether there was an imminent threat or whether the injunction was premature
- Whether human rights law had been correctly applied to sections of the injunction dealing with protest on the highway
- The prohibition of people combining together to interfere with UKOG’s economic interests
- The replacement in the injunction of a prohibition on “watching” by “loitering” with the intention of compelling actions.
The women have been supported by the human rights campaigner, Bianca Jagger. At an initial hearing in March, she told them:
“I believe that you deserve to be celebrated as human rights defenders. You should not be regarded as anything different from the people I support in the remote places of the world. You deserve as much respect and we should be grateful to you for defending our environment.”
Weald Action Group, a campaign network which opposes oil and gas development across southern England, said:
“The Weald Action Group has welcomed a Court decision to grant leave to appeal in the UKOG injunction case.
“Six women from Surrey and Sussex acted as defendants in the case last July. They are objecting to the injunction’s wide scope – as it is against “persons unknown” and restrictions on peaceful protest. The sites covered are Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge.”
This is the second appeal against an injunction granted to a hydrocarbon company.
Appeal court judges will also hear a challenge in March 2019 against the injunction granted to Ineos (DrillOrDrop report). The UKOG appeal is likely to be heard at the same time and to cover similar issues.
DrillOrDrop reported on the UKOG injunction hearing at the High Court. You can read our reports here: