An anti-fracking campaigner is being asked to foot the bill for the cost of court hearings that saw protesters banned from two sites where energy giant Cuadrilla wants to drill for shale gas.
Tina Rothery today hit out at the “underhanded” tactics being used to stop activists who are opposed to fracking on the Fylde coast.
Speaking after yesterday’s hearing at Manchester High Court, she said she expects to be hit with a bill running into the “tens of thousands”.
It comes after the judge extended a temporary trespass injunction barring protesters from land on and around the two sites where Cuadrilla hopes to drill.
Ms Rothery said: “We feel the motivation to ask for such high costs is quite underhanded – it is to deter people from standing up.
“This was just a tiny taste of what happens if you have to go to court with Cuadrilla. They will always have more money and power than you.
“I think this is a very sad and telling glimpse of what the future may hold.”
But she insisted the fight against fracking will continue, regardless of how much she is forced to pay.
“They are trying to make activism inaccessible but this changes nothing,” she added.
The injunction, requested by Cuadrilla and local farmers to prevent a repeat of the anti-fracking protest camp that saw campaigners occupy farmland for almost three weeks back in August, applies to a number of sites on and around the Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood sites where the firm hopes to drill.
It will last for a month after Lancashire County Council has made its decision over energy giant Cuadrilla’s application to drill on the sites but could remain in place for up to two years.
The costs to be paid will be decided at a later date but Cuadrilla claims the amount being sought was less than half the damages incurred when the field was occupied.
It said the initial hearing last month was adjourned at the defendants’ request for more time to prepare, yet no evidence was submitted for yesterday’s hearing.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla said: “We are pleased the judge has protected local farmers’ rights to farm their land without illegal trespass by awarding this extension to the interim injunction. We also welcome the court’s decision to award appropriate costs against the named defendant who chose to prolong this case.
“It is important to remember that it is the local farmer who has suffered through the detrimental impact that the illegal trespass has had on his family’s business. We hope this action will prevent any recurrence.”