Court threat as anti-fracking campaigners defy injunction

Cuadrilla's drilling rig at Preston New Road
Cuadrilla's drilling rig at Preston New Road
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Fracking company Cuadrilla has said it will take legal action against six anti-fracking campaigners who staged a lock-on protest at its site in defiance of a court injunction.

The protesters locked themselves together in pairs at the entrance of Cuadrilla's shale gas drilling site off the Preston New Road at Little Plumpton at around 7am on Tuesday.

The campaigners say they were highlighting what they say is an unfair use of the law to prevent any meaningful, peaceful protest at the controversial site.

Cuadrilla won a judge's backing earlier this month when a temporary injunction was extended preventing such blocking of the site entrance, plus trespass, obstruction of or climbing on top of vehicles, and blockading suppliers' sites.

A spokesman for the shale gas exploration company said: "Cuadrilla can confirm that it plans to take legal action against six individuals who have unlawfully blocked the entrance of the company’s shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, Lancashire clearly breaching the terms of a High Court Injunction issued earlier this month."

The campaigners will be in danger of breaking that injunction which could lead to stiffer sentences than have been previously imposed on people obstructing the site.

Police confirmed they have put a contra-flow system in place on the A583 until the protesters were removed at around 1.30pm. The four women and two men were arrested.

Cuadrilla and shale industry supporters have said that protesters actions, which have led to police placing restrictions of traffic flow, have caused misery and disruption for drivers and businesses in the area.

A spokesman for the group stated: "We are using our enshrined-in-law human rights to protest, to challenge a polluting industry that holds no social license in our community. This industry has gone to extreme and expensive lengths to manipulate the law, via a court injunction, to prevent protest in meaningful forms.

"We're here today to challenge that. Fracking has no residential support within the UK, with the government pushing it upon communities who have already said no.

“Why should a national government overrule local governments, to force this industry on communities? Why has the law been misused for the benefit of wealthy corporations? There has to be a strong line drawn under such abuses of law and democracy: this today, is our line."

Jonathan Bartley from the Green Party said on twitter: "Sending solidarity to anti-fracking campaigners locked-on this morning outside Cuadrilla's Preston New Road exploratory fracking site to highlight the abuse and manipulation of the law by Cuadrilla who have recently obtained an injunction aimed at preventing meaningful protest."

Cuadrilla says that fracking can be carried out safely, is carefully regulated and will produce a home grown source of natural gas for the country and local jobs.

Campaigners say that fracking causes earth tremors, can potentially pollute water and air and goes against the principle of cutting the country's carbon footprint.