Cuadrilla injunction on frack trespass

Photo Neil Cross'Anti-fracking rally at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton

Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has won an injunction to prevent protesters going on to a farmer’s field at its drill site.

But campaigners say they defeated a bid to prevent them protesting at the roadside by the introduction of a designated protest area near the Little Plumpton site.

They said if granted that would have set a precedent restricting legitimate protest at the Fylde site and at others around the county.

A judge at Manchester High Court granted the restoration of the injunction banning people from the site but refused to include the designated area saying that at 25m sq, it was too small and could cause “increased anger” if protest was limited to it.

Campaigners attended the hearing and fought against the protest area proposal but said they did not contest the injunction – although protestor Tina Rothery failed to have her name removed from the injunction.

The original injunction was granted in August 2014 following a summer protest camp on the field and lasted until October 2016 when Tina Rothery was named on the order and later faced court.

The restored order was brought by Cuadrilla and 11 landowners after a rally last month when around 30 people went on the drill site.

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “Following the events of Saturday, February 25, when a so called peaceful protest resulted in further trespass on local farmland and destruction of property Cuadrilla and local farmers have been granted a further injunction.

“This is in order to protect local farmer’s land and livelihoods and Cuadrilla’s operational site at Preston New Road.

“The injunction has been granted until August 31, 2018.

“In the High Court Ms Rothery was given the option to have her name removed provided she gave an undertaking to the court instead that she would not trespass on the land.

“Ms Rothery refused to give such an undertaking to the court and so she remains personally named on the injunction granted today by her own volition.

“The court was satisfied that Ms Rothery had made threats to illegally trespass on this land in the future as borne out by evidence read out to the court, including evidence from a local radio interview given by Ms Rothery after the events of February 25”

Campaigner Bob Dennett, who was present at the hearing, said they accepted that the landowner and Cuadrilla would get the injunction but they were there to prevent the designated protest area bid.

He said: “We spotted this in the injunction papers and had to work hard to oppose this.

“This protest pen plan would have set a major precedent.

“It was meant to gag protest but the judge agreed with us.

“It would have meant people opposing fracking would have been restricted to a small area behind a hedge out of sight and the police could have used it to prevent protest at the roadside.”

Ms Rothery could not be reached for comment.

See also: Nana’s joy at court victory

More from Business