Legal

Cuadrilla injunction trial: Campaigners defend protest outside fracking site

190625 Cuadrilla CoC 1 DOD

Christopher Wilson, Katrina Lawrie and Lee Walsh with supporters outside the High Court in Manchester, 25 June 2019. Photo: DrillOrDrop

An environmental campaigner has told the High Court she breached the injunction at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool because she was “terrified” about the damage fracking would do to her community.

Katrina Lawrie (41), who said she had dedicated her life to opposing fracking, was giving evidence at the first contempt of court case brought by a UK onshore oil and gas company for alleged breach of an injunction.

She told the hearing in Manchester:

“Deep in my heart I realised I had to try to prevent the damage.

“We needed do something to prevent such harm coming to our community.

“Fracking hadn’t happened then and we were terrified about it.”

Cuadrilla alleged a total of 5 breaches of its injunction at the Preston New Road site by Miss Lawrie, a further four by Lee Walsh (44) and two by Christopher Wilson (55).

All three deny contempt of court and are expected to argue that the injunction was unlawful because it impinged on human rights to protest, assembly and association.

If found guilty, they face a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

The court heard that Cuadrilla had been granted the most recent version of its injunction on 11 July 2018. The order outlawed specific protests. These included trespass, lock-ons, climbing on lorries, obstructing the highway and site access with the intention to disrupt Cuadrilla and conspiracy to cause disruption by delaying suppliers.

Almost a fortnight later, on 24 July 2018, Ms Lawrie, Mr Walsh and Mr Wilson, along with three other protesters, locked themselves in pairs into arm tubes outside the site.

pnr 180724 Ros Wills 5

Lock-on protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 24 July 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

The protest began at 7am and all six were released by a specialist police team by 1.40pm. Cuadrilla told the court it had been unable to serve papers on two of the protesters.

The company alleged the lock-on protest breached the injunction terms on blocking the site entrance and conspiracy.

Injunction terms

Questioned by Tom Roscoe, for Cuadrilla, Miss Lawrie said she was aware of the injunction and that there was a feeling of injustice about it among protesters. She said:

“We were all upset and angry.

“We felt it would impinge on our rights to protest.”

Mr Walsh agreed that the injunction was an “inappropriate curtailment” of protest.

All three campaigners said they were not aware of the specifics.

Mr Roscoe said in mid July 2018 there were notices about the injunction on the fence around the Preston New Road site. He said:

“It is inconceivable that you were not aware that the injunction prohibited obstructing vehicles”, he said.

“You would not have risked contempt of court by not troubling to check”.

Miss Lawrie replied:

“There was lots of rumours and counter rumours. You didn’t know what to believe.”

Mr Roscoe said the site notice was “perfectly clear about what was allowed”.

“You must have known that the injunction did not allow you to block the entrance”.

He put it to Miss Lawrie:

“Before 24 July you decided the injunction did not deserve your respect.”

Miss Lawrie said:

“I was there to protest to the damage to the environment.”

She said:

“My intention was not to cause harm to Cuadrilla but to protest abut fracking and the damage it would cause.

“On 24 July, I realised I was going to have to do something, where all other methods of protest had been removed. I would have to break the terms of injunction because I was so fearful of the risk of damage to our community and the environment.”

Miss Lawrie told the court:

“We were frightened. We are not legal people. We are good people. We are frightened by the legal system.”

Mr Wilson told the court he thought the injunction should be tested.

He said Cuadrilla “should not be able to dictate the terms of the protest”. But he added that he had not intended any disrespect to the court.

Arm tubes

Asked about where the arm tube came from, Miss Lawrie said it “turned up” at the same time she was outside the site. She said she didn’t know who had made it. She could not have released herself from the device, she said.

The court heard that the police protester removal team arrived at 11.40am and Mr Wilson was released from his lock-on device in 20 minutes.

It was put to James Dobson, Cuadrilla’s head of security, that this device was less effective than the other two. It was described in court as a “sham lock” device.

Mr Dobson said:

“I would not contest that two were better devices.”

Mr Wilson said he had not expected to be in his device for very long. It had seemed sensible to keep “better equipment” for future actions, he said.

Blue line

pnr 180724 Ros Wills 6

Lock-on protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 24 July 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

The court also heard evidence that the lock-on protest was on the road side of a blue line painted in the site entrance. The line was said to mark the boundary between the private land of the Preston New Road site and the highway.

Mr Roscoe put it to Miss Lawrie: “You were on the highway side of the line. You intended not to trespass.”

Miss Lawrie replied:

“We felt it was a safe place in the highway because we weren’t sure where Cuadrilla’s land started.”

Mr Roscoe said the protest would have been safer if had been on the pavement.

Miss Lawrie said:

“The intention was to bring attention to fracking.”

She said generally she did not intend to delay Cuadrilla but added:

“On this particularly time, I felt that a very short disruption would bring some attention about the immediate risk to everyone’s future.”

This was an exception, she said.

An independent transport witness, Robin Carr, giving evidence for Cuadrilla, was asked whether he would draw the blue line in the same place.

“I would not”, Mr Carr said. “It would be marginally different. “

“Not in the same place?”, asked Adam Wagner, representing Miss Lawrie and Mr Walsh.

“Not precisely, no”, Mr Carr replied.

He said he didn’t know who had drawn the line and on what basis. There was a margin of error because of the inaccuracy of maps and a potential disparity of 130mm, he said.

It was put to Miss Lawrie that she was there as part of a common plan with other people. Miss Lawrie denied this.

Mr Wilson and Mr Walsh were asked why they were seen on video singing when security guards advised them about the injunction. Mr Wilson said:

“We always do that. We cannot allow them to dictate the dialogue.”

Other protests

The court also heard that Miss Lawrie had taken part in protests on 1 and 3 August 2018 and on 22 September 2018. Cuadrilla alleged she breached the injunction terms on trespass, conspiracy and obstruction during those protests.

Mr Walsh was alleged to have breached the injunction terms on obstruction and conspiracy during the protest on 1 August 2018.

The case was adjourned until tomorrow morning (Wednesday 26 June 2019) when the judge, Mr Justice Pelling, will hear legal arguments about the injunction.

Updated: To correct reference to the death of one of the six participants in the lock-on protest and the date in a picture caption


Reportiing from this case was made possible by individual donations to DrilOrDrop.com

27 replies »

  1. Katrina Lawrie (41), who said she had dedicated her life to opposing fracking? When was fracking started in the UK? Ahem!

    • What are you implying? Ahem ! She has dedicated her life to it when it came to her home ! Brave woman ! She certainly does not belong in prison! What is the World coming to when we are prosecuting peaceful protesters!? Disgusting!

      • Stopping someone going about their legal business is not peaceful. Fingers crossed the judge will send a strong message that behaviour such as there’s will not tolerated in a democratic country

        • Judith, Hitting someone over the head with a baton, throwing them into hedges or roads or driving a large vehicle at them is not peaceful!
          Securing yourself with others across a toxic fracking site entrance to block it most certainly is!

          • Firstly, I’ve watched many videos of the protests and have never seen protestors being hit by Barton’s or thrown in front of traffic.

            Secondly blocking an entrance is stopping people working, which is a legal right. Anyone one blocking the sites should be removed using whatever force necessary – they’re the ones breaking the law.

            • Judith. You may have watched many videos of the protests at PNR and elsewhere. I have actually been there regularly at the roadside since Cuadrilla first arrived and have experience of the real thing. May I say, I’m a 72 year old local, I’m not a crusty hippy and I do have a job in case you wish to pass judgement on that too. Protestors may not have been hit by “Barton’s” as you call them but there have been countless occasions when people, including myself, have been deliberately driven at by truck drivers,We’ve also been flung into the path of oncoming traffic by police. Being pushed face first into a hawthorn hedge which could result in blinding someone, is also a regular occurrence. Policing is erratic, inconsistent and driven by orders from above to prevent protest at all costs. The numerous serious injuries including broken bones, torn ligaments, concussion and being pushed out of wheelchairs are clear evidence of the disproportionate violence used against peaceful protest.

              • Pauline – with such convincing evidence, I’m surprised that you haven’t been able to bring prosecutions against the police. It seems so unlucky that the camera is always pointing in the opposite direction when these events happen.

                • And, of course, no mention of the abuse hurled at police officers, vegan chocolate cake smeared by the entrance that was supposed to signify something childish and unpleasant. Or those doing such things whilst they indulged in benefit fraud.

                  But it is strange that whilst this has been filmed continuously by the antis they seem to have little evidence to utilise to bring a prosecution. Maybe it is a reluctance to have scrutiny within a Court?

                • Judith,
                  There are numerous legal actions ongoing and in hand against the Constabulary.
                  It’s just that the legal system takes non-corporation folks like us longer to navigate, by intent!

                • We have many complaints pending. You must be very naive if you believe it is simple for ordinary citizens to prosecute the police. You’ll be aware of Hillsborough and other such events where the police have been found to act in a much less than professional manner.

            • Judith firstly I’ve seen numerous climate defenders of all ages and both sexes thrown around Preston New Road by the Constabulary and arrested with undue force. Including the disabled and those representing their local constituency!
              There are several Court Actions ongoing in this respect!
              Secondly I only mentioned ‘batons’ to illustrate the difference between peaceful and violent activity.
              Thirdly inflicting fracking on my Community will lead to physical and mental illness, that is a conspiracy to commit actual bodily harm!
              Fourthly continuing to extract fossil fuel is conspiracy to commit Ecocide. Encouraging this insanity makes you as culpable as the operators!

              • Peter – once again you don’t seem to have an argument as to why producing our own gas will increase our consumption compared to importing it from Norway, Qatar etc. There is a great deal of work being conducted on decentralized energy generation, which provides a vision of how local gas generation can provide the back-up necessary for renewables to realize their full potential until reliable energy storage systems become available. Of course, the recent CCC report suggests that methane will also be needed for the considerable future to generate hydrogen gas that can be used to reduce the amount of GHG emissions generated by gas-fired central heating systems etc.

                The only physical or mental health issues that people will ever suffer as a result of hydraulic fracture stimulation are the result of the scare stories that they are fed by people such as you regarding the dangers of the process. It is by far the safest way of producing hydrocarbons and produces far less contamination and uses less water than both farming and biogas generation. You also don’t seem to take into account the ecological damage that is created as a result of the extraction of critical elements needed in renewable energy generation.

                We will have to wait and see what actions succeed against the police. However, I’d be highly surprise if any are successful as from what I’ve seen they have operated completely within the law; they should be totally congratulated for showing such restraint given the extreme provocation that they receive from the so-called “peaceful protesters”.

                • From what I’ve read from you so far you haven’t seen any action!
                  Just go on YouTube for some real tme coverage of police action demonstrating the behaviour described please.
                  Then please leave the forum!
                  You are Industry!

                • Peter – I think you’re getting above your station telling me what I should do. I’ve watch loads of the footage and have kept copies. The response of the police is total proportionate. It’s also interesting when one listens to the footage that there seems to be an inconsistency between what some of the protesters are arguing in court to what has been live streamed. I’ve got copies and they have been sent to the appropriate people.
                  Regarding whether your notion that I’m industry, people could equally argue that I’m the opposite given the amount of time I spend on environmental consultancy and low carbon projects. The thing is that you do neither – you seem to just sit on the side lines passing comments on things you know very little about. It’s a bit like your constant whining about not using fossil fuels and then failing to give a realistic alternative. You seem to be the Boris Johnson of the green movement [edited by moderator]

    • Do you mean ask Cuadrilla what they think fracking is, Gas man?

      The answer will illustrate their delusion when considering the negative aspects which are why fracking and all fossil fuel extraction need to be halted right now!

  2. “All fossil fuel extraction need to be halted right now”!!!

    Yep, when there is the next natural disaster just tell those directly involved-no helicopters coming, no bulldozers, no generators, no pumps, no chain saws.

    Not the best way to demonstrate delusion.

  3. Martin;
    Our activities have been scrutinised by many a UK court as have the frackers!
    As yet our people are pretty much unscathed whereas the fracker’s activities have been exposed to public scrutiny.
    Stopping the fossil fuel industry destroying our planet is now on the top of the agenda for all civilised people.
    Obviously you and Judith are not amongst them.

    • Peter – do you read what you write or do you not understand the basics of logical argument? Your first sentence argues that both frackers and anti-frackers activities have been assessed by courts and then you second sentence seems to say that only the frackers arguments have been looked at in public. Which one is it? You then present the argument that producing fossil fuels at PNR will lead to more GHG emissions than importing the gas. You don’t know what you’re talking about so you Peter?

  4. That’s why domestic solar panel sales in UK dropped 94% when subsidies were removed, Peter!!

    Not so keen to pay around £10k extra for electric/hybrid vehicles either, plus the extra insurance and extra depreciation-even Mr. refracktion has to stick with his 3 litre DIESEL and trundle around for such life defining tasks, as what- yes,taking pictures of ladies undies on a fence at PNR! I was more civilised than that, Peter-do I get an honorary membership?

    Top of the agenda? Deluded.

    Maybe half the antis on DoD are just disgruntled salesmen with few sales-of solar panels.

  5. Most solar panels are manufactured in Germany and China. We have to mport them. So we practically export our jobs to China and Germany. How smart is that.

  6. Also. Wind turbines and solar panels need materials that requires oil and gas to manufacture and produce them. And transportation to consumers. So they are not clean and green as the anti frackers make you to believe.

  7. Exactly TW. My local solar farm demonstrated all of that-PLUS it was constructed by a group of Poles who had “Transitted” to UK in their diesel powered vans and then “Transitted” back to Poland with their salaries. Meanwhile, the farm land is now covered with the panels thanks to a 99 year lease and a housing estate is being built on neighbouring farm land because the solar farm created a change of use precedent!

    But, that is supposed to be “green”??!!

  8. Meanwhile, the world will follow our example.

    Ohh?

    What is that figure that Global Energy Monitor exposed? Oh yes. 16890 MW of new coal fueled energy capacity commissioned so far in 2019 by China.

    Good job UK have reduced their domestic solar panel purchases, otherwise we could have exported even more creative carbon accounting and Greta would be even more distraught.

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