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Fracking protesters could face prison after breaking court injunction

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Anti-fracking demonstrators who broke into a farmer’s field leased by shale gas firm Cuadrilla could be facing a prison sentence for trespassing, it has emerged. 
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Sophie and Emma Thompson
Sophie and Emma Thompson

Land owned by dairy farmer Alan Wensley was under a court injunction when up to 70 protesters entered the potential fracking site last Wednesday.


Organised by Greenpeace, the protest saw activists including British actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson take part in a ‘Frack Free Bake Off’ inside a marquee on the field in Little Plumpton, Preston, Lancashire.

 

Interfering


Mr Wensley told Farmers Guardian the protesters were interfering with his farming practices and were breaking the law by being there.


A sign on the field gate stated any trespassers could be prosecuted.


He said: “My neighbour called me on Wednesday morning to tell me he had seen the marquee being erected on my land.


“By the time I got out there, they had cut through the chains and locks which were put on the field to stop trespassers and they had replaced them with their own locks, so I couldn’t even get on my own land.”

 

Injunction


A Cuadrilla spokesman said the protesters were ‘well aware’ of the injunction which was placed on the land in 2014.


A Greenpeace spokesman admitted the protesters had ’broken a court injunction by peacefully occupying the land’.


Actress Emma Thompson said: "We have to show the Government that we will not allow fracking to scar our countryside and fuel yet more climate change."


Mr Wensley said despite police being present, they were there for ‘observation only’ due to the situation being a civil matter.

 

Frustrating


He added: “This was extremely frustrating. We were planning on starting spring work on the field that day and with the weather how it is, it is important to make the most of any dry day.


“They were interfering with our farming practices.”


After being told the police could not remove the protesters, Mr Wensley said he went about his usual business on the land dominated by Greenpeace.


With the help of his son, the farmer drove his tractor around the land spraying liquid manure, catching some of the protesters and crew members.

 

Breaking the law


“They were breaking the law and I was making my point," he added.


"I was planning on spraying the field that day anyway.”


A Lancashire Police spokesman said officers attended the scene and spoke to the protesters but no arrests were made.


A decision on a potential prosecution will be made following legal review.


Breaking a court injunction can carry a fine and or/prison sentence.

 

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