Press release from the Weald Action Group
The outcome of a high-profile high court case will not be known till August at the earliest.
Six women from Surrey and Sussex have put their names forward as defendants against an injunction which oil company UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) wants to impose on “persons unknown”, banning legal protest at and around their drill sites.
After a four-day hearing, the Judge, Mr Justice Male, has reserved judgement in order to consider the legal implications.
The barrister representing the six defendants, Stephanie Harrison QC, has described the injunction as “excessive and intrusive” and said that if passed, it would be “the epitaph for direct action”.
Lorraine Inglis of the Weald Action Group said: “All eyes will be on this verdict. It has serious implications for the right to peaceful protest and for our freedom of speech and right of assembly. Oil companies cannot be allowed to set the legal framework for protest in this way. We know the judge listened carefully to both sides and trust now he will throw this proposed injunction out.”
UKOG is developing sites across the South East as part of their aim to get “back-to-back wells in an industrial production”. This has prompted concerns about the contribution of onshore oil to catastrophic climate change, impacts on drinking water and air pollution, as well as HGV movements on narrow country lanes.
The injunction application by UKOG was the latest attempt by fossil fuel companies to silence peaceful protest. Fracking companies Cuadrilla and INEOS have recently secured injunctions, which are the subject of legal challenge.
UKOG has drilling sites across the South East including Broadford Bridge in West Sussex and Horse Hill in Surrey, both mentioned in the injunction. It also has a significant stake in the proposed drilling site at Leith Hill in Surrey and a planned new site on the Isle of Wight.
The Weald Action Group supports local communities facing threats from this expansion.