Green MEP welcomes High Court delay to ‘chilling’ UKOG injunction bid against protesters

The High Court in London adjourned a case today brought by UK Oil and Gas (UKOG), which aimed to restrict lawful actions against its sites across the South East.

UKOG has interest in sites in Surrey (Horse Hill) and Sussex (Broadford Bridge and Markwells Wood) which are mentioned in the injunction; plus a 40% interest in the Leith Hill (Surrey) Europa site and on the Isle of Wight.

Last week, the South Downs National Park Authority issued UKOG a breach of condition notice demanding the firm, whose planning permission at the site expired in 2016, leave the National Park and restore the site to its original state.

Responding to today’s High Court decision, which was secured by five women campaigners against the oil industry in South East England, Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the region, said:

“Today’s decision has again proven the importance of dedicated and passionate local residents and environmental campaigners. More power to their elbow. These relentlessly peaceful heroes are standing up for not only our environment but our civil liberties too.”

“The High Court has today thrown a spanner in the works for UKOG and its attack on our human rights and freedom of expression. The firm’s desired injunction would have a chilling effect on the right to lawful protest and campaigning right across the South East. It was only just that the High Court 
recognised the draconian and wide-ranging bid was anything but ‘standard’ – as UKOG tried to claim.”

“The decision to delay, however, means the fight against this chilling and anti-democratic injunction is not over. Residents and campaigners now have little over a month to prepare to take on the financial might of UKOG in the High Court to defend not just their civil liberties but those of all British people. I unreservedly offer them my wholehearted and continuing support.”

“There is nobody who cares about the health of British democracy and human rights who wouldn’t support the campaign against an injunction that seeks to 
criminalise thousands of South East residents. On my visits to drilling protests across the UK, I have met the warmest, most caring people one can imagine.”

“In a free and democratic country, a company’s economic interests should never supplant citizens’ fundamental human rights. UKOG’s injunction bid is not only practically unenforceable it is also anti-democratic. It presents an obvious and clear breach of the Human Rights Act. It will set a truly frightening precedent if it isn’t rejected out of hand.”