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Anti-Fracking Activists Face Prison Threat Over Obstruction

The Times

Anti-fracking protesters face the threat of prison if they obstruct Ineos’s efforts to explore for shale gas after it secured wide-ranging injunctions to protect its operations.

The petrochemicals group, which is preparing to drill for shale at several sites in the UK, said that it had decided to seek legal protection after an escalation of attempts to frustrate its work. The move also follows months of disruptive protests against Cuadrilla’s efforts to drill in Lancashire.

Ineos’s High Court injunctions, covering trespass, harassment and any obstruction of its business, staff or suppliers, mean that protesters face much tougher penalties than they would under criminal law. Obstructing the highway would normally carry a penalty of up to £1,000 whereas breaching an injunction would constitute contempt of court and could result in a two-year jail term.

Ineos said the injunctions, granted on an interim basis pending a return hearing in September, did not interfere with “the right to lawful, peaceful protest”.

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