The shale gas company, Ineos, has installed new protest injunction notices at its proposed exploration site at Woodsetts in south Yorkshire.
The notices were later removed in 2019 after the Court of Appeal quashed sections of the injunction as unlawful.
Ineos does not have planning permission for the Woodsetts site.
The application did not include hydraulic fracturing but local people have said they see it as a precursor to fracking in the area.
A decision is still awaited on the permission after Ineos’s application went to a public inquiry in June 2019.
Since then, the government issued a moratorium on fracking, following earth tremors caused by Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston New Road in Lancashire.
The Woodsetts inquiry inspector, Katie Peerless, asked the parties, which included the local group, Woodsetts Against Fracking, to submit their comments on the moratorium.
Her report is due by 13 January 2020. The final decision will be made by the local government secretary.
Fracking’s “election holiday”
The anti-fracking campaigner, Joe Corre, who has just pledged £100,000 to the Labour Party, described the government moratorium as a “Team Johnson hoax” and an “attempt to pick up marginal seats in areas where fracking is unpopular”.
“The Conservatives used a so-called fracking moratorium to try and election-fix.
“But Ineos has just let the cat out of the bag by confirming they are continuing their quest to be the biggest fracker in the UK by posting their new injunction notices around their site in Woodsetts.
“Fracking isn’t finished. It’s just taken an election holiday”.
Mr Corre and another campaigner, Joe Boyd, challenged the Ineos injunction at the Court of Appeal earlier this year.
In April 2019, Lord Justice Longmore, struck out sections which outlawed protests on the public highway, including slow walking protests, climbing on to vehicles and blocking the road. He also removed the section on protests against the supply chain.
Sections on trespass and private rights of way were maintained. But Lord Justice Longmore ruled that the High Court had applied the wrong test in approving this part of the order. There was also no time limit and this was unsatisfactory, he said.
He ordered Ineos to go back to the High Court so that these sections could be assessed against the Human Rights Act and for a decision on what time limit was appropriate.
DrillOrDrop asked Ineos whether it had gone back to the High Court and, if so, what was the outcome. The company has not responded to our request.
Woodsetts election news
Alexander Stafford, the Conservative candidate for the Rother Valley constituency, which includes Woodsetts, has said he opposes fracking.
He has recorded a short video for Facebook standing next to a Woodsetts Against Fracking banner. In it, he said: “Woodsetts does not need fracking” and if elected he would “fight tooth and nail” to “protect this and other villages in Rother Valley from fracking”.
Richard Scholey, of Woodsetts Against Fracking (WAF), said as a result of the video “numerous people have made contact to say they are of the belief that WAF have endorsed Mr Stafford.”
“This is absolutely not the case. WAF does not endorse any political party, but simply advise members of the public to examine the policies of each party in respect of their stance on fracking. For clarity, Mr Stafford has at no time, made contact with WAF or provided support to our efforts to prevent fracking development in Woodsetts.”
Mr Stafford lists his occupation on Linkedin as external relations adviser at Shell. He is a councillor in the London Borough of Ealing.
Update on other Ineos drilling sites
DrillOrDrop reported in November 2019 that Ineos was pursuing plans for shale gas exploration at another site in south Yorkshire.
The company has planning permission to drill and test a shale gas well (but not frack) near the village of Harthill.
It told residents that the government’s moratorium on fracking did not affect its exploration plans for Harthill.
Ineos has submitted an updated version of plans to create 23 passing places on the lorry route to the site off Common Road. This was a condition that the company must meet before other work can start.
Ineos also has planning permission for shale gas drilling at Bramleymoor Lane, on the edge of the village of Marsh Lane in Derbyshire. But a spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council told DrillOrDrop:
“We haven’t heard a thing from Ineos about how they want to progress their planning permission.”