Injunctions-Eating away at our right to protest

by Weald Action Group

Injunctions-Eating away at our right to protest

by Weald Action Group
Weald Action Group
Case Owner
We are an umbrella group for local campaign groups and communities opposing new risky methods of oil and gas exploration across the South East.
on 27th March 2019
pledged of £25,000 stretch target from 238 pledges
Weald Action Group
Case Owner
We are an umbrella group for local campaign groups and communities opposing new risky methods of oil and gas exploration across the South East.

Latest: Dec. 6, 2019

Case update

Dear Friends and supporters,

Last month we were back in court about the injunction. These injunctions are called “interim” injunctions, they are not supposed to go on forever, (but sometim…

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Who are we? 

We are The Surrey/Sussex Six. Ann, Sue, Natasha, Constance, Vicki and Jacqui- six ordinary citizens with ordinary jobs and families

What is the case and why does it matter? 

Last year UK Oil and Gas (UKOG)* brought out an injunction against “persons unknown”. This aimed to prevent all forms of protest activity, including some perfectly legal ones, around three oil sites in Surrey and Sussex and at UKOG’s Guildford office.

We could not allow this attack on citizens’ rights to go unchallenged and we put ourselves forward as ‘defendants’ representing many campaigners in the South. Because of our stand, one of the drill sites was dropped from the injunction, as well as the Guildford office. The judge also dismissed some of the protest actions from the case.

We could not have done this without the help of so many, generous supporters.

Unfortunately the judge did allow an injunction against some campaign activities, We have now been given permission to appeal against this remaining injunction. Can you possibly help us again?

Injunctions like this are stopping our Human Rights to speak out! 

When we went to court it was clear that the oil companies were starting to use injunctions to stop campaigners. Since then a number of injunctions have been granted, one of them at a secret court, before any campaign groups even knew about it, let alone had a chance to challenge it. 

The oil and gas companies are using these injunctions to slowly change the law; each one eats away at a bit more of our right to protest.

And they are being brought against “persons unknown”. This means that anyone at all could find themselves accused of breaking the law. Some injunctions prevent any campaign presence along several kilometres of public road.

Breaking an injunction can lead to large fines and even prison. For law abiding citizens, like most of us, this is a frightening prospect. Many people would rather not take the risk – so decide not to protest. This is exactly what the oil and gas companies want.

The oil and gas companies put a lot of effort into portraying campaigners as extreme and aggressive protesters. The sight of peaceful, everyday citizens opposing their industry - with all its potential for pollution and environmental damage - does their case no good at all.

They are using these injunctions to try to silence us. 

We must stop them. 

How much are we raising and why? 

We are supported by the Weald Action Group (WAG) They secured top-class legal representation for us at substantially reduced rates.

The legal team comprises of Stephanie Harrison QC leading, Timothy Baldwin and Stephen Simblet leading and Anna Morris of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties Team, instructed by Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy solicitors. They have generously agreed not to accept fees until any costs are covered. And they will be seeking a protected costs order - failing that, a costs cap as a safeguard should our appeal fail.

We have set the initial amount to £5,000 to make sure a payment can be made as soon as that target is achieved. Our full stretch target is £25,000 so please give whatever you can. Even a small amount makes a big difference! **

And please share this page on social media. That really helps. Thank you! 

[*] UKOG currently has sites in Surrey (Horse Hill) and Sussex (Broadford Bridge) which are the subject of the injunction. They also have further interests in Sussex (Lidsey), - Hampshire (Horndean, Baxter Copse & Avington) - and on the Isle of Wight (Arreton). Their site at Markwells Wood, West Sussex is subject to a Breach of Condition order and the well was plugged and abandoned in January 2019. They have so far failed to restore the site. This February, 2019, UKOG announced plans for a new site at Dunsfold in Surrey. 

UKOG take great care to state that “they are not fracking.” They employ an equally-concerning stimulation technique, acidisation. This is not the old-fashioned nodding donkey that some of us may know. They either have to crack the rock open (frack it) or dissolve it with acid (acidise it) to make the oil or gas flow. And because oil or gas flows only from each separate section of rock they have fracked or acidised, they have to keep drilling a lot of wells!  For more information follow this link

In the words of UKOG CEO Stephen Sanderson, "This type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill our wells almost back to back, so it becomes very much like an industrialised process."

[**] If, for any reason, we are unable to continue with the case, we will stop raising money. Any money raised up to this point will be paid to the legal team. This will still only cover only a small proportion of their work.


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Update 9

Weald Action Group

Dec. 6, 2019

Case update

Dear Friends and supporters,

Last month we were back in court about the injunction. These injunctions are called “interim” injunctions, they are not supposed to go on forever, (but sometimes they do). In theory the interim injunction is in place until the case goes to a full trial. None of the injunctions against oil and gas sites has yet gone to trial.

We are pleased to report that the court has decided that this injunction cannot go on indefinitely and that it should go to trial. We will be the first. We will be able to have our say in court, and the oil company will be forced to disclose much of their activity. The bad news is that the courts are so booked up that we have to wait until December 2020. Because of this we have decided to close down this appeal for the moment, and we will reopen it closer to the trial date.

So, thank you so much for your support. Your donations made it possible for us to try to reach an agreement with the company, and to show the court why this did not work. Your donations helped us achieve this trial. In the meantime, negotiations with the oil company will continue to try to reduce the scope of the injunction and our legal team will be collecting evidence and preparing the case. We are grateful to our team who, for the present, will be doing this work with very little payment.

We are also grateful for your continued support. We could not have got so far without it. Thank you.

Update 8

Weald Action Group

Sept. 23, 2019

We are still fighting

Dear friends and supporters, 

We hope you have enjoyed the summer. 

It has been a while since you heard from us, but work on our case has not stopped. Before the summer break we believed we were close to reaching an agreement with UKOG. They appeared to be considering a modification in terms of the injunction. But the court needed to know when we were ready to go to appeal, and so we were advised to withdraw. However, UKOG have still not finalised their agreement, and we are now due to go to go to a hearing in November. 

You may be aware that UKOG have received permission to drill five more wells at Horse Hill, despite the continuing local earthquakes and tremors, and even though Surrey has now declared a climate emergency. 

Local people are particularly worried about the earthquakes but cannot demonstrate this concern near the site because of the injunction. The terms of the injunction are vague, they include “gathering and loitering”; and people don’t want to risk doing anything to break the injunction. Their right to protest has been muzzled. 

It is important that we regain our right to oppose this industry. UKOG and Igas are applying to drill at Dunsfold in Surrey and on the Isle of Wight. UKOG have bought up other license areas. In these times of climate emergency the oil and gas companies are carrying on with “business as usual” If they succeed in silencing us at Horse Hill, then they will continue to do so at future sites, giving them freedom to spread right across the Weald and beyond!. 

So, thank you so much for supporting us and donating to our case. Your donations have been vital. Please share this appeal with your friends and ask them if they would also donate to help us continue in this fight. And every little helps, it really does! 

Thank you!! 

Update 7

Weald Action Group

May 24, 2019

Significant developments in the UKOG appeal

Today UKOG tweeted that we have abandoned our appeal and that their injunction "will remain in full force and effect". This is not true. Our legal team had been discussing with UKOG whether they would make a number of concessions on the injunction that could save the need to go to the Appeal Court. UKOG had agreed to many of these. However, at the last minute they asked for conditions that were considered unacceptable, and no agreement was reached.

We have now decided that rather than go to the Court of Appeal we will take the case directly to the High Court. The recent decision on the Ineos injunction means that much of the UKOG injunction has to be struck out. We will test the remainder in the High Court.

This is yet another attempt by UKOG to intimidate campaigners. They hope to falsely convince campaigners that they will suffer the draconian consequences of imprisonment and seizure of assets if they show any form of protest at their sites. They use their money to threaten local campaigners and local residents, but they are on shaky ground and our fight goes on.

Please continue to donate, and please continue to share. Your support is so important to us, and we thank all of you for your help so far.

Update 6

Weald Action Group

May 14, 2019

Meet Natasha, our fifth defendant

Natasha campaigned against drilling at Leith Hill. Since the site has been abandoned and cleared she has supported campaigners at Horse Hill. She became a defendant at this injunction especially because of the attack on human rights, and the attempt to silence all protesters at drilling sites.

Update 5

Weald Action Group

May 11, 2019

Meet Jacqui, today's defendant

Jacqui was one of the original campaigners who protested at Leith Hill. While on a protest she found herself arrested for walking, with others, in front of a lorry. Her case never went to court. Her passion for Lieth Hill, and her anger at the chilling effect on peaceful protesters can be seen in this film.

Update 4

Weald Action Group

May 6, 2019

Our defendant of the day.

Today’s defendant is Ann. Ann is a member of Markwells Wood Watch, a group of local people who successfully campaigned against drilling and acidisation at the site near Rowlands Castle, in West Sussex. Campaigners lobbied local politicians, publicised their case in local newspapers and social media and organised a letter campaign of objections to the planning committee. UK OIL and Gas withdrew their planning application just before it was due to be heard. Never the less, they included Markwells Wood Watch in their original injunction, and tried to get an injunction against legal activities. This is how oil companies are trying to suppress legal protest.

Update 3

Weald Action Group

May 4, 2019

Defendant of the day

Today’s defendant is Vicki. Vicki campaigned extensively against the proposed oil development at the Surrey beauty spot, Leith Hill. This was a campaign that lasted almost ten years and was subject to an injunction by Europa oil and Gas. Last year Michael Gove refused to renew the lease on the land. The site has now been restored with no drilling ever taking place. Hurray! But Vicki found her name on a list that Europa sold on to other oil companies. Angus Energy claimed that people on this list were known to engage in unlawful activities. Vicki and another campaigner were able to get this list removed. She is now campaigning to stop drilling at Horse Hill and to remove the injunction against protest at that site.


Update 2

Weald Action Group

May 2, 2019

Our defendant of the day.

See what our defendants have to say. 

Our first defendant is Sue. She started campaigning because of her passion for wildlife and the effect of drilling on local wildlife populations. She was part of the very successful campaign to stop drilling at Wisborough Green in Sussex. She went on to support the Bradford Bridge campaign, and was one of the women who maintained the "Cake at the Gate" protest. Now that is a form of protest close to my heart!

Update 1

Weald Action Group

April 4, 2019

Great news


Yesterday Joe Corre and Joe Boyd won most of their appeal against a similar injunction to this one. Its a really significant victory. The two Joes have been brilliant in their determination to fight this injunction all the way.

The court stated that the ban on various forms of protest are unlawful. UKOG used the INEOS injunction to justify their injunction against us. This means that the chances that we will win our appeal have risen enormously. 

Please spread the word and keep donating, so that we can have our day in court.

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