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Campaigners on trial for peaceful protests at Horse Hill this week – but who is guilty?

Photo opportunity: 9am prompt Tuesday 14 June, Redhill Magistrates Court, Hatchlands Road, Redhill, RH1 6DH

 Twelve of the 19 people arrested for peacefully protesting against oil drilling at Horse Hill, near Horley, in February and March, are on trial this week. [1]

The twelve were arrested for ‘slow walking’ lorries delivering supplies to the drill site during February and March 2016, while flow tests were being conducted. Slow walking is a legal form of protest. [2]

The trial will begin on Monday 13 June at Guildford Magistrates’ Court (1pm) and will continue from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 June at South East Surrey Magistrates’ Court, Redhill.  It is anticipated that the trial will attract a lot of support due to the contentious nature of the criminal charges.

 Meanwhile UK Oil & Gas Investments, one of the companies with interests in the Horse Hill well, has announced it plans to return for further testing this year. UKOG makes no bones about the fact they plan to use unconventional techniques, including multi-well pads, horizontal drilling and acid stimulation; techniques also known as Hydraulic Fracturing.   UKOG and Horse Hill Developments also speculate on further drilling in the area making the Horse Hill operation a ‘gateway’ to further drilling across the Weald basin. [3]

Dave Doktor, one of the defendants, says, “I protested peacefully at Horse Hill because the extraction of oil risks damaging the local ecology, the health of local residents and the global climate. There are larger plans for drilling in the Surrey area and across The Weald, so it’s crucial that communities come together and resist it.”

“By arresting us, the police tried to criminalise peaceful protest. But who is really guilty here? Ordinary people who risk arrest and personal liberty to draw attention to the devastation caused by unconventional oil drilling, or an industry that damages the health of local communities and causes catastrophic climate change?”

Rob Basto, from Reigate, says, “Local residents are grateful to the brave and principled people who came to Horse Hill this year to protest against the oil drilling that threatens to industrialise our area and wreck the local environment and the climate. If the government won’t protect the climate and the environment, ordinary, responsible people have to take a stand.”


Notes for Editors

[1] The 12 defendants have all pleaded not guilty, and believe their actions were justified in the face of the environmental and public health threat posed by the drilling plans.

[2] In January 2016, a test case against two anti-fracking ‘slow walk’ protectors arrested at Barton Moss, Greater Manchester, resulted in a not guilty verdict. In acquitting the pair, District Judge Nicholas Sanders said: “They were entitled to demonstrate, were entitled to walk along Barton Moss Road”.

[3] For UKOG’s interests in the Weald basin, see

*As well as risking criminalisation for peacefully protesting, the defendants have also had to suffer threats and harassment from UKOG investors. For this reason we would be grateful if names of defendants can be kept from the public arena if this is possible. This matter is currently under investigation by Surrey Police.*


One Response

  1. Cross Frack says:

    Please mention public register for fracking ban politicians.

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