A road-side camp used to monitor operations at an oil and gas site north of Hull was evicted for the third time today.
Bailiffs employed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council gave environmental campaigners six minutes to pack up belongings outside Rathlin Energy’s West Newton-A site.
A man was arrested on suspicion of theft but released without charge. A 33-year-old woman was attested and charged with obstructing a person acting on the authority of an enforcement officer. She is due to appear in court on 17 April.
The campaigners said they needed to camp outside the site to maintain a 24-hour check on operations.
Their lawyers sent a letter to the council’s chief executive earlier this month saying “it would not be reasonable or proportionate” to move the protesters from their camp. The letter concluded:
“To do so would amount of an unlawful interference with their Article 10 and 11 rights [under theHuman Rights Act].
But East Riding of Yorkshire Council said today it continued to have serious road safety concerns about the tents and structures on the grass verge.
The council did not issue a statement but said comments made after evictions in February and March still stood.
After the March eviction, the council said:
“These are narrow, unclassified roads with no road markings and are used regularly by farm machinery and heavy goods vehicles. Obstructions and hazards, such as the tents and wooden structures erected, on the sides of these narrow roads can cause visibility issues for all road users and drivers, and therefore increase the risk of accidents.
“Because of these road safety concerns, the council, supported by the police, have taken appropriate action to remove all the items from this area.
“This action was taken under the emergency procedure contained in section 149(2) of the Highways Act 1980.”
The campaigners said all their equipment, tents and bedding had been removed in today’s operation. But a spokesperson said:
“We will be coming back because we promised the community that we would monitor the site 24-hours a day.”
The campaigners established the West Newton Monitoring and Information Station in January 2018 when operations resumed after a break at the site. They said official regulators did not have the resources for effective monitoring.
When the West Newton-A site was last active in 2014, members of the public reported concerns which resulted in the Environment Agency recording at least 14 breaches of conditions of the site’s environmental permit.
In February, campaigners and local people appealed to East Riding of Yorkshire Council to drop an eviction order against the monitoring camp. But the council went ahead five days later. The camp moved but was evicted again in March.
DrillOrDrop invited Humberside Police to comment on today’s operation.
A spokesperson said:
“We remain committed to fulfilling our duty to protect the human rights of all groups and individuals with an interest in this situation.”
We also asked the council about the lawyers’ letter. This post will updated with any response.