Frack firm takes activists to court

Protest: The camp at Little Plumpton, near Blackpool
Protest: The camp at Little Plumpton, near Blackpool

Farmers and gas exploration company Cuadrilla are together taking legal action to ensure that anti-fracking protesters cannot return to occupy farmland.

Ten Fylde farmers, supported by Cuadrilla, have served a claim for possession against trespassers who have been occupying farming land at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, near Blackpool, since August 7.

The site – which is not one of Cuadrilla’s proposed exploration sites – formed a base for Reclaim the Power’s protest activity.

The claim says that protesters denied the dairy cattle the grazing they need as the occupation had allegedly taken over a third of the farm’s grazing land and resulted in lower milk yields.

The claimants have also asked the court to consider imposing injunctions so that no future trespass can take place on farmland at or surrounding Cuardrilla’s proposed shale gas exploration sites.

The case is listed for hearing at Manchester High Court on Thursday.

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “As with all the recent so-called ‘direct action’ by protestors, this illegal occupation of farmland, damaging a local farmer’s business and causing stress to his family should not be tolerated.

“This is why we are joining with local farmers to start legal proceedings that we hope will prevent this kind of activity in the future.”

The action is being taken mainly on behalf of the Wensley family, who own the occupied land.

A spokesman for the family said they did not wish to comment.

Police meanwhile are still investigating the occupation of chamber of commerce offices in Blackpool by protesters on Monday.