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'Draconian' anti-fracking injunction to be challenged in High Court

An environmental campaigner’s legal claim, challenging a pre-emptive injunction granted to fracking company Ineos, will be heard in the High Court for three days from 31 October 2017

31 October 2017

Mr Boyd, represented by law firm Leigh Day, will argue that the injunction is unlawful as it has a substantial impact on the rights of those wishing to protest against the drilling for shale gas across the UK and that INEOS did not produce the evidence justifying such a broad Court order.

Co-leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas has provided a statement in the proceedings, in which she details her opposition to fracking and the importance of the right to peaceful protest.

The original injunction was granted in July, at an ex‐parte hearing at which nobody else but Ineos and landowners who have leased land to them, were present.

An initial hearing took place at the High Court on 12 September 2017. The court renewed the injunction at that hearing pending a further hearing on the matter, which is due to start on 31 October 2017.

The High Court injunction means individuals would be in contempt of court if they engaged in a variety of different forms of protests, including slow walking at any of the sites listed in the injunction and Ineos’ supply chain.

An arrest for breach of this injunction could result in prosecution for contempt of court and the protester could be sentenced to up to two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine up to £5,000.

The UK petrochemicals group Ineos is the largest owner of shale licences in the UK. Their fracking licences cover more than 1.2m acres of land across the north‐west of England, Yorkshire and the Midlands.

Campaigners have called the injunction “draconian” and they claim it will seriously limit the right of people to protest against the activities of fracking companies and those linked to them.

Caroline Lucas MP will say in her witness statement to the court: “Reasonable obstructions of the highway, such as slow walking, and peaceful protests are legitimate tactics in the anti-fracking and other political movements… Slow walking has become a particularly important form of protesting in the anti-fracking movements across the UK and I understand the injunction obtained by Ineos makes this unlawful – a development which I think is extremely worrying and detrimental to our democracy.”

Rosa Curling, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said: “We believe the terms of the interim injunction breach Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantee the right to freedom of expression and freedom of association. If this pre-emptive injunction is allowed to stand, our rights as citizens of the UK, to engage in peaceful protests will be significantly curtailed. The right to protest is a vital part of our democracy.

"Our client is fighting against this injunction to ensure that local people, citizens and campaigners retain their right to hold peaceful protests against the fracking industry and those involved in it.”

The injunction granted against “persons unknown” is being challenged by law firm Leigh Day and barristers Heather Williams QC ,Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh and Jennifer Robinson, on behalf of Mr Boyd.

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