Energy firm Cuadrilla has been granted a High Court injunction to stop trespassing at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire as it prepares to start the fracking process later this year.
The injunction, brought by Cuadrilla and local farmers and granted by the High Court last Friday, replaces and extends an existing injunction forbidding trespassing on the shale gas exploration site and the surrounding farmland.
It also stops unlawful obstruction of the site’s entrance, and the nearby A538, and prohibits ‘lock-ons’– being deliberately chained to an object or another person to prevent site access – and obstructing vehicles leaving the site. The injunction also applies to Cuadrilla’s supply chain.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said the injunction was “not about restricting lawful and peaceful protest” but was aimed at stopping “unlawful protest activity”.
“We are pleased that the High Court has seen fit to grant this interim injunction which provides further reassurance to our employees, contractors, and suppliers and the general public using the Preston New Road that they can go about their lawful business without intimidation and illegal unlawful blockades from activists,” he said.
“This injunction does not restrict lawful and peaceful protest but is an important deterrence against unlawful protest which we have witnessed and the extraordinarily degree high level of unlawful protest activity we have seen at Preston New Road, and not about restricting lawful and peaceful protest.
“Those activists that continue to contemplate persist in unlawful activity against us or our suppliers should strongly consider the serious penalties that a breach of this injunctions could bring.”
Cuadrilla aims to start the fracking process by the third quarter of the year, subject to Government approval, and the company plans to have the site connected to the local gas grid network in 2019.
The horizontal well, which stretches for around 800 metres, will allow Cuadrilla to release the natural gas in the rock through hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping water at very high pressures to break the rock.
While fracking proposals have received strong opposition, Cuadrilla and other shale gas explorers have maintained that using the natural resource could significantly add to the UK’s energy supply, and reduce the need to import the gas from other countries.
Cuadrilla has now also started work on a second horizontal shale gas exploration well, and has planning consent to drill up to four of these wells on the site.