The ruling has been delayed in an appeal by the first campaigners found guilty of breaching an injunction against anti-fracking protests.
Three protesters had been found in contempt of court in June this year after locking themselves together outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site. They received prison sentences suspended for two years.
At a hearing at the Court of Appeal yesterday, Katrina Lawrie, Christopher Wilson and Lee Walsh challenged the contempt of court ruling and the sentences against them.
Their barrister, Kirsty Brimelow QC, argued that the Cuadrilla injunction order was unclear and should not be used to commit protesters for contempt of court.
She also said the suspended prison sentences were “manifestly excessive”. The judge at the trial had failed to “pay proper attention” to the sanctions that would be used in the criminal courts, she said.
All three had been acquitted in the magistrates’ court for obstructing the highway in the lock-on protest.
Today, Cuadrilla’s barrister, Tom Roscoe QC, defended both the injunction order and the sentencing.
Three appeal court judges said they would reserve judgement in the case. Their ruling is to be handed down at a future hearing, the date to be confirmed.
The judges are also expected to decide on Cuadrilla’s costs, awarded against the campaigners at the original trial. DrillOrDrop understood at the time that this could have amounted to £70,000.