INEOS Shale obtains High Court injunctions protecting the public and its people, sites and supply chain
The injunctions prohibit unlawful acts by protestors including trespass and harassment
Any obstruction of INEOS Shale’s business, people or suppliers is now a contempt of court – including slow walks and lock-ons
The injunctions do not interfere with the right to lawful, peaceful protest
INEOS presented the court with extensive evidence of shale protestors involved in intimidation and dangerous direct action, putting themselves and others at risk
Tom Pickering, Operations Director of INEOS Shale said, “We have a duty to do all we can to ensure the safety of everyone on and around our sites, including the protestors themselves. We are also clear that our people and suppliers have the right to come to work free from harassment and intimidation. In these circumstances it was right and responsible to seek these injunctions, and we are pleased that the court has agreed.”
INEOS Shale today secured injunctions at the High Court which will help to ensure safety and protect people on and around its sites. The injunctions also apply to businesses and people across the INEOS Shale supply chain.
Militant activists have a long history of intimidation, threats and dangerous direct action against shale gas companies, including:
- site occupations
- intimidation of individuals and companies going about their lawful business
- threats of violence and physical assaults
- blockading and shutting down lawful businesses
- damaging and stealing equipment
- harassing and goading police officers
INEOS sought legal protection following a recent escalation in activities targeting its operations. Tom Pickering said, “At INEOS we will not stand for intimidation, threats or risks to safety. Today’s High Court Injunctions will protect our sites, our people, our suppliers and the public from the militant activists who try to game the system and cause maximum disruption.”
The Judge said that INEOS had presented a considerable body of convincing evidence which had persuaded him unlawful action by shale protestors was both imminent and real. He said that if he declined to grant the injunctions that would be a denial of justice for INEOS. The judge said that it was important to recognise that the injunctions do nothing to prevent anyone effectively exercising their right to freedom of expression. He noted that people are free to express their opinions, but not to carry out unlawful acts.
Tom Pickering said that INEOS has a legal duty to ensure safety for everyone, including the protestors themselves. “Our sites are potentially hazardous for anyone without proper training, so we have a duty to prevent trespassers. We safety train our people to avoid the very hazards that militants and protestors naively expose themselves to. For instance, standing in front of a moving lorry whose driver may not be able to see you is dangerous. Blocking roads to all traffic including emergency vehicles is dangerous. Diverting police resources away from local policing is dangerous. Applying to the court was the right and responsible thing to do.”
Today’s injunctions prohibit a range of unlawful activities, including:
- trespass onto INEOS Shale sites and relevant office locations
- obstructing the highway around these sites
- obstructing or interfering with INEOS Shale business and / or the activities of staff on and around these sites
- interfering with, harassing or conspiring to injure people and businesses across the INEOS Shale supply chain. This includes actions such as slow-walking and lock-ons.
The court order states that any breach of the injunctions is a contempt of court which could lead to imprisonment, fines or seizure of assets. INEOS would also be entitled to seek to recover damages from any individual breaching the injunction.
This is an interim injunction which will remain in force until a return hearing. This is due to be held in September.
Richard Longden (INEOS) 0041 21 627 7063 or 0041 7996 26123
Andrew McLachlan (Media Zoo) 020 7384 6980 or 07931 377162
Joseph Wade (Media Zoo) 020 7284 6980 or 07758 074576
NOTES FOR EDITORS
INEOS has a legal duty to consider and reduce health and safety issues for all of its operations. In this context, INEOS has a duty of care to consider the HSE implications of uncontrolled protest action which creates a risk that someone may be seriously injured or even killed. As a responsible operator INEOS will utilise legal remedies to bring control to unlawful protest activities, to protect employees, contractors and the public.
The police have also encouraged the industry to seek legal clarity through the injunction process, in the interests both of preserving law and order and minimising the drain on already stretched police resources.
The injunctions ordered by the High Court on July 31 st 2017 prohibit the following:
- trespass onto INEOS Shale sites and relevant office locations
- interference with the work of INEOS Shale, its staff or suppliers as well as access by relevant landowners on private land and public highways around these sites
- obstructing, impeding, or interfering with the activities of people, or businesses across the INEOS Shale supply chain
- harassment, criminal damage, obstructing the highway or conspiracy to injure INEOS Shale, its people or suppliers
The court order states that anyone disobeying the injunctions will be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized.
INEOS presented extensive evidence of dangerous direct action at sites including Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road and Balcombe sites, the Europa Oil and Gas site at Leith Hill, Dart Energy’s site at Daneshill, the Third Energy site at Kirby Misperton and the IGas Energy site at Upton, as well as unlawful action against its own supply chain.
INEOS fully acknowledges and supports the right to peaceful protest and the court judgement recognised that the injunctions do not prevent people from enjoying their rights of freedom of expression to the full.
INEOS Shale is currently involved in exploratory work including geological surveys and test wells. The business is not currently undertaking any hydraulic fracturing at any sites, nor has it applied for any planning permissions to do so. All shale activities are subject to strict regulation.