The Weald Action Group will be going to the High Court to challenge oil company UK Oil and Gas Plc (UKOG)’s attempts to stifle protest – but not until next year.
On Friday 15 November, Weald Action Group representatives went to court to reach a decision about the interim injunction that was issued to UKOG in September 2018.
UKOG is seeking to ban protest activities which affect their commercial interests. In March 2018, the company applied for an injunction which would effectively stop any activity at all that affects its economic interests.
The Weald Action Group supported six women who lived near oil drilling sites in Surrey and Sussex to step forward as defendants to fight the potential injunction, which they condemned as “draconian” and a threat to human rights.
In September 2018, a Judge issued an interim injunction to UKOG which removed some of the most restrictive clauses – but does still ban some protest activities at Horse Hill and Broadford Bridge.
Now, a judge has ordered that the interim injunction should go to trial before it is finalised.
This is the first time an injunction against protests at UK oil and gas sites is to be examined at a full trial. Interim injunctions granted to Europa, Cuadrilla, Ineos, IGas and Angus Energy have all been decided at court hearings and through evidence submitted in writing.
This means witnesses will be able to give evidence in person. The trial is expected to last seven days, and is unlikely to be held before December 2020.
One of the defendants, Vicki Elcoate, said, “We welcome the fact that this case will be going to a full trial where we will get the opportunity to put our evidence of what has happened at protests at oil and gas sites.
“We are very disappointed about the timescale, with a trial not expected until next year. In the meantime, people will continue to be deterred from visiting UKOG sites to exercise their right to protest.”
Read more about this and other relevant injunction cases: