Legal

Third eviction of drill site protest camp

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.

24 replies »

    • No, poor spelling beats that, One! No sarcasm but just noted your solidarity. Very good of you. I have the same sort of problem-this plastic keyboard does get a little worn and slippery over time. Maybe Sir Jim could come up with a solution? (Actually, I have always wondered why they do not make keyboards with a grained surface on the characters. And when that wears smooth, time to replace. There is probably someone with a patent for it. If not, my contribution towards increased productivity due to less correcting of text.)

  1. Eviction is necessary!,
    Why do the armchair expert protesters, who know so much about the oil and gas industries operations need to keep check 24/7?, what are they expecting to see as they obviously don’t know what its all about!

      • Ahh Sherwulfe, the child card again. Did you take part in the “training” as well regarding the correct slogans to use?

        Unilateral disarmament now with the added “benefit” of the Internet. Same lines, same approach, same disregard for razors, same (well probably not now) useful idiots.

        “If we lead others will follow”. Ermm, well, we already are and no, they will not, and they are the mammoth, not the flea. But it is a lot easier to impose your will upon the flea.

        • Lynn Boylan MEP addresses Greta Thunberg in the European Parliament – for those who apparently think children should b seen and not heard and therefore should not have a say in what we are doing to their future and ours.

          1.2 million children think otherwise, and are saying so….

  2. Perhaps this potential fossil fuel extraction site isn’t situated in a suitable location given the narrow and winding approach roads/lanes?
    The potential site at Roseacre in Lancashire was actually closed down before it got started for exactly this reason!

    • Peter K Roberts,
      Pipers Lane and Fosham Road are single track unmarked country roads with suitable passing places, this type of road is common and widespread in the area.
      An area which supports windfarms, gas storage caverns, gas terminals and biomass plants, all accessed safely down similar roads as those at West Newton, but without the obstructions and hazards created by people residing on the verge.

  3. Not to mention the fact that stopping Climate Destruction requires all fossil fuels remain where they are, deep down!

  4. After moving the camp back to the original area where the council issued an eviction order to move away from “no later than the 20th February.” Today’s eviction should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

    Eli-Goth, we have seen the camp used as a base to disrupt over the past two weeks, the “monitoring” is a busted flush.

  5. No-one has the right to set-up camp on the public highway! Just monitor by sitting on a moveable chair and organise shifts. Not difficult to organise surely.

    • We have seen this before, but apparently there are some who have forgotten the law regarding public right of way on rural highways.

      So i will clarify it for you.

      In UK law ancient highways are public rights of way under common law in which pedestrians and horses have priority right of way above vehicles which are classed as “intruders” which is why you require a licence to drive on a highway, you are an intruder in law.

      Pedestrians’ have no such requirement in law and are in fact in theory have unassailable legally permitted right of priority and that is protected by law.

      It is only motorways that have overturned that basic human right.

      That explains why the council can only evict under obstruction or danger from vehicles, which must be proved.

      Not you may note danger to vehicles but from vehicles, because it is the licenced vehicle that is the (presumed) licenced vehicular intruder, not the pedestrians who have legally established right of way.

      The evictions here are therefore argued and actioned by the council, for the monitors and pedestrians safety and not for any other reason. And that can be challenged as no accident or incidence of traffic danger has been demonstrated or recorded.

      The bailiff’s and police are therefore acting under the orders of the council and would not have any right to move or evict under their own remit.

      Therefore the evictions are council motivated and no proof of danger to the monitors has been provided other than vague references to their safety from vehicular traffic.

      The interesting situation is therefore that it is the vehicular traffic that have the legal obligation to avoid the monitors pedestrians and horses, not the other way around.

      Clarification is better than uninformed invective isn’t it.

      • But the law requires “reasonable use of the highway”. Camping on the highway fails this simple test.

        • However the verge is not highway, and therefore the highway camping suggestion is erronous,

          The highway verge is a public right of way, as is all public property, it is only handled by the council on our behalf. The highway verge, like rural highways are our our property held in trust by the council, it is not the councils property, they have none, it all public property under the care and trust of the council, not owned by the council or the highways authority, who only have jurisdiction over its use and maintenance and safety.

          Vehicular intrusion is forbidden on verges unless it is an emergency situation. Rural verges can be used freely to camp provided they are safe and do not interfere with vertical and horizontal visibility splays and clean up after themselves.

          Locally there are many do so, there are regular horse drawn carriages that park on verges each summer around here, and the councils and the police allow them to do, because they have no rights to move them on anyway unless they breach other conditions, and they are doing no harm.

          But perhaps they do not have any intention of monitoring potentially illegal and law breaking activities of private corporations though, so that is maybe why they are left alone and the monitors have been evicted three times.

          Proof of harm or damage or obstruction or potential harm to them by vehicular traffic, which again must be stressed that the vehicles themselves are the intruders under law and pedestrians have rights of way, must be proved, and as far as anyone can see, that has not been proved or even detailed in any way other than vague references to safety (the monitors, not the vehicles) in these three evictions.

          Perhaps that indicates another motive for the evictions, speculate away on that, but don’t get too excited, its bad for the temperament of some contributors.

          • The verge is public highway! It has been adopted and maintained by the Local Authority. Just look at the legal definition of highway.

            • You are quite right, i meant carriageway is not a verge, highways do include verges, my mistake, as you say, highway is assumed to extend beyond a carriageway, that being the hard paved section of a highway.

              The extent of the highway does in most cases include the verges right up to the fence or hedge or legal boundary, however they are soft and poorly maintained if at all, and vehicles are restricted to the hard paved section unless in an emergency. Curiously verges are not mentioned in environment law on rights of way.

              “Footpaths:
              This public right of way is meant for pedestrians only. You are allowed to walk your dog as long as it is under your close control. When walking a dog, you must ensure that it keeps to the public footpath and does not trespass into nearby properties. Prams, pushchair or wheelchairs can also be used on a footpath.

              Bridleways:
              These are meant for walkers, horseriders and bycyclists. Bicyclists are expected to give way to walkers and horseriders.

              Byways Open To All Traffic (BOAT):
              These byways are normally marked “byways” and are open to motorists, bicyclists, horseriders, motorcyclists and pedestrians. As with public tarmac road networks, motorists must ensure that they are legally authorised to use BOATs (i.e. registered, taxed, insured and MoT’d).

              Restricted Byways:
              Restricted Byways are created under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. They are open to the traffic mentioned above in BOATs, but exclude motor vehicles and motorcycles.”

              http://www.environmentlaw.org.uk/rte.asp?id=207

              However the The United Nations agreed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 does allow for the provision of rights to walk and not be hindered by any state or statute.

              http://www.pedestriansafety.org.uk/human_rights.html

              The complication arises however from the definition of ancient rights of way, these go back to pre Norman times and pre land partition times and historic rights of way pre date the modern highways. Modern motorways have no pedestrian access or right of way.

              It is curious to note that The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 provides that paths that are not recorded on the definitive map by 2026 and that were in use prior to 1949 will automatically be deemed stopped up on 1 January 2026.

              If there is a right of way we wish to maintain as a right of way, we better establish and record that by 2026.

  6. Maybe they have become fed up with monitors who know so much regarding monitoring that they call out the emergency services without first asking whether the emergency services are required.

    Rather apt though that they are so keen on the emergency services being present, but only if that is a partial scrutiny of the site and area. Don’t seem too keen on the Gold Standard approach.

  7. Some points that may be relevant to the situation at West Newton.
    Article 11 of the Human Rights Act says that the state can’t interfere with your right to protest just because it disagrees with protestors’ views, because it’s likely to be inconvenient and cause a nuisance or because there may be tension and heated exchange between opposing groups. Instead, it must take reasonable steps to enable you to protest, and protect participators in peaceful protest from others.
    ACPO Statutory Guidance says,
    ” Public assemblies should be facilitated within “sight and sound” of their target audience. In particular, the state should always seek to facilitate public assemblies at the organisers’ preferred location, where this is a public place that is ordinarily accessible to the public.

    These evictions are preventing protest being carried out ” within sight and sound ” of their target audience and appear to be motivated more by the fact that the state disagrees with the protestors’ views than any safety issues which are being claimed.

  8. But Adam Boultons comments on Sky to Extinction Rebellion were even more interesting!!

    “You’re like the incompetent middle-class, self indulgent people and you want to tell us how to live our lives. That’s what you are, aren’t you.

    I feel very patronised by you because I feel that I’m well aware of what the situation is and I don’t see why millions of fellow citizens should be inconvenienced.”

    Sometimes the silent majority are not too impressed with the minority-and even make their views known. Shouldn’t assume the silence is supportive.

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