Anti-frackers in court over 'lock on' protest

Hamish Haynes, one of the protesters 
Photo: SWNS
Hamish Haynes, one of the protesters Photo: SWNS

The largest prosecution of anti-fracking protesters since test drilling began has got underway.

Ten people – all Greenpeace activists – are in the dock.

They are alleged to have obstructed the highway outside the Cuadrilla gas exploration site.

Vincent Yip, prosecuting on Wednesday, said that police were called to the entrance to the site on May 3 this year.

They found ten members of Greenpeace “locked on” in pairs across the site entrance.

Their arms were covered by large yellow boxes bearing anti fracking logos.

Despite their presence, a convoy of eleven trucks left the site and vans entered it.

The protesters were asked to move on and one pair were cut free and the others self released.

The prosecutor said that after the end of the protest, the chief executive of shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla said what had gone on had no effect on his company’s work.

Lancashire County Council highways works manager Paul Smith told District Judge Jeff Brailsford at Blackpool Magistrates Court that the protesters had been sitting on the public highway and the boundary between the highway and Cuadrilla site was well delineated.

Of the ten on trial four chose to give evidence in their defence. They were Greenpeace staff member Abigail Mortimer, trainee yoga teacher Helen Dryden, women’s aid centre worker Liz Stanton and Gillian Wood, a film costume artist.

The four admitted the desire on the day was to disrupt Cuadrilla.

The other defendants are James Biggs, 30, of Canning Street, Liverpool; Peter Chan, 48, of Waverley Road,Reading; Helen Dryden, 47, of Calveley Walk, Standish, Wigan; Jane Hayes, 58, of Langdale End, Scarborough; Hamish Haynes, 43, of Quarry Clough, Tameside. Tameside,Manchesster;Abigail Mortimer(30)of Lorne Road,Haringey,London;Jeffrey Rice(50) of Boulton Close,Chesterfield;Elizabeth Stanton(54) of Grafton Street,Preston;GillianWood(50) of Regent Road,Blackpool;Barrie Broadley (49) of Ipswich Road,Norwich.

They all denied wilfully obstructing the highway outside the Cuadrilla gas exploration site at Little Plumpton near Blackpool,Lancs during an anti fracking demonstration in May this year.

(Proceeding)