UNITED KINGDOM: Support freedom to protest and stop oppressive oil injunction

Weald Action Group, and the six local campaigners who are challenging the UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) injunction, have launched their crowdfunder to pay for their legal costs. Here is their pledge:

(Weald Action Group/CrowdJustice)

Who are we?

We are Ann, Sue, Natasha, Constance, Vicki and Jacqui. We are lawful, respectful citizens who simply want to raise awareness of the potential risks of oil and gas activities to our land, water and air across Surrey and Sussex. We have put our names forward because we could not stand by and watch this attack on citizens’ rights without challenging it.

We are fighting a High Court injunction that could stop the right to peaceful protest and could prevent local people raising awareness of the industrialisation of our countryside. We need your support to raise funds for our legal costs!

What is the case and why does it matter? 

UK Oil and Gas Ltd (UKOG, and its family of companies) [*] recently applied to the High Court for an injunction that could severely curtail campaigning against their risky method of oil and gas exploration [**] here in the South East.

But the injunction, if granted, could also serve as a precedent for other oil and companies here and around the country. It could have implications for civil liberties more generally, and rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Legal background

This oil and gas company do not want us, local people to have a say.  The sweeping injunction sought by them is against ‘persons unknown’ – that’s all of us. They want to prohibit a wide range of actions including ‘combining together’ to interfere with the company’s ‘economic interests’. We fear that this could prevent us from speaking out in the press and on social media and organising local campaigns against these environmental dangers to the countryside and the communities in which we live.  They seek to build and expand on an injunction granted against local communities and campaigners opposing fracking in Yorkshire and the East Midlands brought by the giant multinational INEOS last year.

UKOG Ltd are already on shaky ground as the preliminary hearing on 19 March at the High Court in London was adjourned for six weeks after the court ruled the application for the injunction could not be decided. The court recognised that we had a right to be heard and put our case against the wide ranging order with serious implications for freedom of speech and protest.

How much are we raising and why?

The Weald Action Group has secured top-class legal representation at substantially reduced rates.

The injunction will be challenged by Stephanie Harrison QC leading Timothy Baldwin, and Stephen Simblet leading Anna Morris of the Garden Court Chambers Civil Liberties Team, instructed by Michael Oswald of Bhatt Murphy solicitors.

They have successfully agreed a protected costs order against UKOG so we do not have to pay the oil company’s costs if we lose. We now need to raise the discounted cost of £25,000 for our dedicated legal team. 

We have set the initial amount to £5,000 to ensure a payment can be made as soon as that target is achieved. Our full stretch target is £25,000 so please give what you can.  It will make all the difference. And please share this page on social media. It really helps. Thank you!

[*] UKOG currently has sites in Surrey (Horse Hill) and Sussex (Broadford Bridge) which are mentioned in the injunction; plus other interests in Surrey (Leith Hill), Sussex (Lidsey), Hampshire (Horndean, Baxter Copse & Avington) and Isle of Wight (Arreton). They are currently seeking two new sites in the South East with the aim to have many more.

[**] This new wave of oil prospecting is different from wells drilled into ‘reservoirs’ that could drain large areas of geology. Companies are now drilling into geology in which oil or gas is trapped in tiny pores within the rock – shale, and certain types of limestone and sandstone. They have to crack this kind of 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 the section of rock they have fracked or acidised, they would have to drill a lot of wells.  In the words of UKOG CEO Stephen Sanderson, ’This type of oil deposit very much depends on being able to drill your wells almost back to back, so it becomes very much like an industrialised process.’

Support the crowdfunding here

For more information please download the Weald Action Group leaflet here.

Here is the shareable Facebook post.  Also click on this search for#injunctioninjustice on Twitter to retweet or create your own using the hashtag #injunctioninjustice and the crowdfunder link

Cover picture: DrillorDrop