Oil company applies for injunction labelled ‘draconian’ by campaigners against drilling

March 13, 2018
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Environmental protesters have expressed their outrage at an oil company which has applied for an injunction thought to be aimed at preventing protests at sites such as Leith Hill and Horse Hill .

Representatives from the Mole Valley Green Party and the Voice for Leith Hill group have slammed the application made by UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) as “draconian”.

If approved by the High Court at Monday, March 19 the injunction would outlaw protesters from entering oil drilling sites or obstructing the highway to prevent vehicles reaching the sites.

The injunction would potentially impact people looking to protest at the Leith Hill site in Coldharbour, Horse Hill in Horley and the Brockham oil well.

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In response to news of the potential injunction Lucy Barford from Mole Valley Green Party said: “This move by UKOG represents a frightening attack on legitimate protest and local residents who want to peacefully protest against fossil fuel extraction in their local area.

“It forms part of a deeply worrying trend by oil and gas companies applying for blanket injunctions against local campaigners.”

While Julian Everett, a member of local group ‘A Voice for Leith Hill’ added: “On initial viewing, this appears to be a jaw-dropping attempt to debase and subvert our judicial process to the ends of unfettered corporate greed.

“This injunction would profoundly impact our rights to freedom of association and to lawful protest, and I have every faith the courts will robustly repel any such attack on our core British values of justice and democracy.”

Brockham Protection Camp protesters
(Image: Grant Melton)

Protests have taken place at oil drilling sites across Mole Valley in recent months.

At Leith Hill, Coldharbour, protesters invaded the potential oil drilling site and set up a “protection camp”, including a huge wooden fort, in November 2016 and remained there until they were removed in June 2017.

At Horse Hill in Horley in November 2017 protesters “reclaimed” the oil drilling site and occupied it for several days.

And at the Brockham oil drilling site in January 2017 protesters set up a small “protection camp” near the site and disrupted deliveries to the site by walking slowly in front of the vehicles.

Protesters outside Surrey County Council this morning

Protesters outside Surrey County Council in October 2017
(Image: James Sheard)

As part of the injunction UKOG has designated what it calls “exclusion zones” on sections of road outside entrances to its sites.

It also accuses protesters of taking photographs of contractors on site in moves it says is “unlawful”.

The application accuses protesters of “a wanton disregard of private property” and of attempting to intimidate supply companies from withdrawing their services at oil and gas sites.

Giving reasons for their injunction application, UKOG released a statement which read: “Recent incidents have compelled UKOG to take this serious legal action to protect itself, its supply chain and landlords from threats and unlawful conduct from activists, who are intent on preventing us from going about our lawful business.

UKOG also states that the injunction does not prevent anyone effectively exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

If approved by the High Court the injunction would outlaw:

  • Entering the sites
  • Obstructing the company and its contractors on the highway
  • Preventing access to the sites
  • Committing offences including obstructing the highway, criminal damage, interfering with a motor vehicle and compelling a person from abstaining from a legal action

Aside from the injunction, the Environment Agency are holding a drop-in session about its role at Surrey’s drilling sites at Dorking Halls on Thursday (March 15) between 2-7.30pm

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Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/oil-company-applies-injunction-labelled-14401272


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