INEOS FACE SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO ‘ANTI-DEMOCRATIC’ HIGH COURT INJUNCTION
Petrochemicals giant Ineos face a serious challenge at their High Court injunction hearing at 10:00 am on Tuesday, 12th September 2017 at the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL.
Joe Corré, the environmental activist and son of Dame Vivienne Westwood, is stepping forward. Corré is no stranger to standing up against the fracking industry. With Talk Fracking he has been campaigning against fracking for six years to inform people about the true dangers and risk of fracking.
An interim injunction was granted to Ineos by Mr Justice Morgan on 31st July 2017 in a secret hearing with no other party present to the full and true picture and to oppose the making of this oppressive injunction against any unknown person campaigning against fracking or helping others who are campaigning and protesting.
Ineos boasts that their injunction is the most wide-ranging injunction of its kind secured by the shale industry and the first issued pre-emptively before a company had planning permission to start drilling where there was in fact no campaigning activity at any of their sites.
The injunction covers 28 exploration and development licences across 1.2 million acres, including two proposed shale gas sites in Derbyshire and Rotherham but also their entire supply chain.
Corré has made submissions to Ineos lawyers, Fieldfisher, via legal firm Bhatt Murphy to object and oppose the continuation of this unprecedented and oppressive order.
“Someone has to stand up against these disgusting bully boy tactics, they are trying to poison us and buy the British law,” he says.
The announcement in January of Ineos’s plans for Marsh Lane in Derbyshire met with dismay by local people and others as the site is near a school and less than 400m from several homes.
Asked if Ineos would drill exploratory wells in National Parks, AONBs or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Ineos commercial director, Lynn Calder, said: “We’re not going to be going after well sites where we believe it’s just morally wrong to drill there.”
Corré asks: “How precisely is fracking near a school and less than 400m from people’s homes morally acceptable, while Ineos consider SSSI’s to be morally wrong?”
Ineos Shale’s owner, Jim Ratcliffe, claims to have invested £600m in developing shale gas in the UK and would invest “many millions more”.
The injunction obtained by Ineos is against “Persons Unknown”. Corré says: “Well I am a Person Known, known to care about what is about to happen to our country, the health of our children, and our way of life.”
The latest government survey in August 2017 by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy indicates that 84% of Britons now oppose fracking. This is a 12 percentage points increase on the response in December 2013.
“The Conservatives are now completely isolated as the only major party supporting fracking,” Corré says.
“With only 16% of Britons now wanting fracking, how is this travesty and rape of our green and pleasant land by the likes of Ineos being allowed to continue?
“This Ineos legal shock and awe exercise is typical of the arrogance of Jim Ratcliffe who thinks he can buy the British law and play God on moral issues,” he adds.
“Why don’t they go and frack in Switzerland where their company is based? Because they have have sensibly banned it there. They’re not welcome in Scotland or Wales either because of moratoriums on fracking.” Only England is being exposed to this dangerous experiment. Ineos is obviously doing all that it can to prevent the English people demanding the protection that Scotland and Wales have achieved from the damages that fracking will do to their communities and the environment.
The injunction specifically outlaws so-called slow walking on the public high way , where protesters attempt to make their point and delay delivery vehicles. This has been ruled a lawful form of protest by district judges at some trials of people arrested at Balcombe in West Sussex and Brockham in Surrey.
Where slow-walking protesters found guilty might receive a maximum penalty of a £1,000 fine, most would get a conditional discharge. Now Ineos’s injunction means an ‘extra layer of law’ will see innocent protesters facing up to two years in prison for contempt of court, and a crippling bill from Ineos for damages of anything from £50,000 upwards.
Ineos aren’t just attacking Britons on the ground. They are going after protesters online as well. The Ineos injunction makes it a contempt of court for them to receive emails and social media posts concerning Ineos staff or suppliers which they say is harassment and could be punished by up to 5 years imprisonment. Ironically, Ineos have been ‘serving’ notice of their injunction to anti-fracking groups via their Twitter account and Facebook.
Corré says that Ineos and Jim Ratcliffe have form over breaching labour and human rights.
Ineos has been in a bitter battle with union members over pay at its Grangemouth petrochemical plant. In April of this year, Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said Ineos were being “reckless and destabilising” after bosses threatened to tear up legal bargaining agreements with the union.
Corré adds: “Jim Rat-Cliffe became a pantomime villain over his handling of labour rights. Now he has gone too far.
“Rather than rely on existing laws for prosecuting protestors when breached, Ineos’s injunction has added extra legal snares to prevent legitimate protest activities and paralyse protesters by threats of imprisonment and economically through prohibitive costs orders.
“Ineos are a parody of the ‘greed is good’ era of the ‘80s, coming from the school of ‘we do it because we can’.
Corré believes there may be an ulterior motive behind the chemicals giant’s actions. “The fracking industry also relies on dirty, toxic chemicals to pump into the ground. Clearly, this would be a consideration for one of the world’s largest chemical companies.”
He adds: “The entire Tory Cameron-era manipulation to justify fracking has now been exposed as a fraud.
“The MacKay Stone report in 2013 deliberately data-stripped US statistics to skew results in favour of fracking in Britain. It misled Parliament. Fracking misses our Paris climate change targets dramatically. Fracking is, in fact, worse than coal for climate change. That has now been proven.”
Corré says: “This powerful company thinks it can buy the laws, intimidate the public and poison us for the sake of more and more profits to go into their Swiss bank accounts.
“Someone has to stand up to these gigantic bullies who are running roughshod over our homes, national parks, communities and schools and now over the laws that protect our fundamental rights and freedoms.”
As well as tying up protesters in chains, Ineos are also threatening to go after non-complying landowners.
Ineos commercial director, Lynn Calder, said Ineos had the power to pursue landowners through the courts if they refused access for either surveying or drilling. “I think it is important to note that we do have some powers and, at some point … then we will seek to use those powers.”
Ineos Shale didn’t like the National Trust standing up to them over a proposed seismic survey at their 3,800 acre Clumber Park estate in Nottinghamshire and are now threatening legal action against them. Friends of the Earth said INEOS are “bullying a national treasure”.
Corré says: “Ineos didn’t like the National Trust standing against them. Now they plan to sue them for not agreeing with them. They are out of control and they should not be allowed to run rough shod over those who do not agree with them.