Judge grants fracking firm injunction to 2020

A lock-on at the entrance of Cuadrilla's Preston New Road drill site, the type of blockade action which is banned by the injunction
A lock-on at the entrance of Cuadrilla's Preston New Road drill site, the type of blockade action which is banned by the injunction

Shale gas drilling firm Cuadrilla has welcomed a judge’s decision to extend a temporary injunction curbing protest at its site.

Protesters gathered outside Manchester’s High Court for the two day hearing after four campaigners contested the order which had been made at the start of June ahead of a series of planned protests by environmental campaigners at the Preston New Road site near Little Plumpton.

They said the injunction prevented meaningful protest and was too onorous.

But Judge Pelling QC said it struck the right balance and awarded Cuadrilla and local farmers an extension until June 1, 2020.

It bans blockade of the entrance and nearby road and suppliers’ sites, slow walking in front of delivery trucks or climbing on vehicles and trespass on the site. It does not prevent people standing on the roadside.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “We firmly believe that this is an important deterrent to unlawful protest that has significantly disrupted and inconvenienced local commuters and businesses over many months.

"We have seen a welcome reduction in unlawful behaviour since the interim injunction was granted last month. We continue to respect lawful and peaceful protest, but will not hesitate to take legal action against those that breach the injunction with unlawful activity directed against us or our listed suppliers.”

Opponents said the injunction went too far and prevented peaceful opposition. Among those giving evidence were Ian Crane and Fylde campaigner Bob Dennett who had disputed Cuadrilla's evidence.

A spokesman for Friends of the earth said: "Deeply disappointing news. This fracking injunction is a draconian restriction on free speech and the right to protest."