Lancashire Fracking Councillors and Residents Found Guilty of Obstruction

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Twelve local residents who took part in the direct action of a lock-on at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire over the summer of Rolling Resistance, were sentenced today at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

County Councillor Gina Dowding, borough Councilor Julie Brickles, town Councillor Miranda Cox, Nick Sheldrick, Michelle Martin, Sarah Boyle, Barbara Cookson, Nick Danby, Daniel Huxley-Blythe, Catherine Jackson, Alana McCullough and Jeanette Porter, took part in the group action on Monday 03 July 2017.

All 12, including three councillors, were found guilty of wilful obstruction of the highway, under the Highways Act 1980, section 137(1), but the charges relating to the Trade Union Act and Labour (Consolidation) Act 1992, section 24, were all dismissed due to the Crown Prosecution failing to provide sufficient evidence to their case. The judge stated that he saw “no evidence of civil wrong” in relation to the Trade Union charge.

Each defendant was each given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay court costs and victim surcharge totaling £270. There were no fines issued.

The trial began on Monday 13 November 2017, hearing evidence against 12 local residents, including three councillors, who locked-on to weighted objects in the early morning to raise awareness against the increasing threat of a shale gas industry in Lancashire.

Green Party County Councillor Gina Dowding said:

“Shale gas is neither needed nor wanted. The UK government’s commitment to go all out for shale and impose this on the British people, and particularly to impose the risks on the people of Lancashire, is nothing short of perverse.

“The biggest risk to our local and national interest is that of climate change:  it is the overriding national issue. I was driven to take direct action to raise publicity and persuade our national politicians to act now to try and prevent it.”

Retired civil servant, Nick Danby issued a statement to the industry:

“Speaking directly to the fracking industry, its supporters and apologists: you will never have the social license here or anywhere. You will meet sustained resistance.

“You are not welcome and we will do all that we can to protect our friends and families, our homes and our communities. And to those that invest in this industry – pull out now – you will never get your money back.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  1. Original press release from July 03, 2017: Lancashire Councillors and Residents Lock-Down Fracking Site
  2. Attached: Group photo of local residents. Additional photos available via Flickr.
  3. Video interview of Day One of the court case can be found here.
  4. 3. Reclaim the Power is a UK-based direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice. They have been working to oppose fracking since 2013 when they organised mass action at Balcombe. Since then, they have hosted anti-fracking action camps in Blackpool and at Didcot Power station, and taken countless actions to expose and resist the industry as well as the businesses in its supply chain. In April this year, Reclaim the Power implemented a fortnight of action against the fracking supply chain – leading to a number of companies cancelling their contracts. Read more at reclaimthepower.org.uk

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