Landowners go to court to get protesters to frack off

Suzie Neuwirth
A High Court hearing in Manchester tomorrow will decide whether landowners The Peel Group will be granted a consent order to remove anti-fracking protesters from their land, where energy firm IGas wants to start exploratory drilling.
Protesters opposed to the hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – technique used to extract shale gas have moved from Cuadrilla’s exploration site at Balcombe, West Sussex to set up camp at the IGas site at Barton Moss, near Manchester.
The protesters, which currently occupy around 40 tents and six caravans pitched to one side of Barton Moss Road, are planning to challenge The Peel Group’s bid to remove them, according to the BBC.
“The protesters are clearly trespassing on private land and so have no defence to the claim,” said Stuart Wortley, property litigation specialist at law firm Pinsent Masons.
“Accordingly, obtaining the order for possession should be a formality and it is likely that this will be swiftly enforced by the appointed enforcement officers – resulting in the protestors being evicted.”
While the Cuadrilla and IGas sites are still in the exploratory stages, environmental campaigners are concerned that the drilling will discover shale gas and fracking will be used to extract it. They claim that the controversial technique causes earth tremors.
“Shale gas could be a game changer in the UK, providing a valuable new resource that could drive down the cost of energy and revolutionise the energy industry,” argues Wortley.
“Exploration works such as those at Barton Moss are critical if there is an opportunity for shale to be a success in the UK.”
IGas declined to comment. The Peel Group was unavailable for comment.