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Anti-fracking camp at Bridge Trafford evicted

Legal action brought by landowners but backed by energy firm

 

The anti-fracking camp by the A56 at Bridge Trafford.

Anti-fracking campaigners who set up a protest camp near Chester have been evicted.

The activists established a small encampment on privately-owned land at the side of the A56 Warrington Road, Bridge Trafford, not far from The Chester Fields pub and restaurant.

This was after they discovered Star Energy Ltd, owned by IGas, had bought a field at Bridge Trafford for £141,000.

And the company also bought an option on a nearby field to the south of Warrington Road in Barrow, owned by David William Pym.

Campaigners at Chester anti-fracking camp prepare to be evicted

Bailiffs served documents on members of Bridge Trafford Community Protection Camp prior to their eviction as police officers supervised.

Papers were served on the camp residents prior to a court case at Manchester High Court brought by landowners Andrew and Sian Walley and Bill and Barbara Williams but backed by IGas which gave the activists until Thursday (September 1) to vacate.

Protester Dr Steven Peers argues at least part of the land is a Cheshire West and Chester Council -owned lay-by but says the court ruled the landowners retained ownership across half the roadway which he described as a ‘barmy decision’.

He was also unhappy that costs of £5,000 were awarded against both himself and fellow activist Simon Stafford-Smith but said neither of them had any assets so there was no prospect of payment.

Frodsham and Helsby survey to assess community's view on fracking issue

Anti-fracking activist Dr Steven Peers

Dr Peers commented: “They are trying to stop us exercising our lawful right to protest by applying massive costs. We are going to carry on but we are considering our next steps very carefully.”

He said the case ‘should not have proceeded’ and an appeal would be filed.

CWaC highways department told The Chronicle the land in question was ‘not a lay-by, but a surfaced track to a farm entrance’, adding that the council were not the property owners.

Potential fracking sites near Mickle Trafford come into focus

IGas spokesman Gordon Grant said: “The decision of the court has made clear that the protesters were occupying the farmer’s land illegally.

“Where illegal activity leads to legal proceedings having to be taken against them, protesters should be mindful that costs could be awarded against them personally.

A 'Hoot and Toot' awareness event when Mickle Trafford residents joined up with the existing anti-fracking protest camp at Bridge Trafford close to a potential fracking site.

“The interpretation of the seismic survey carried out last year will help inform our future work programme. Once this is complete, we will fully engage with the local communities.”

It was recently revealed the government is considering paying residents affected by fracking from the proceeds of shale gas projects.

A shale wealth fund was unveiled in 2014 to set aside up to 10% of the tax proceeds from fracking to benefit communities in the UK hosting wells.

Prime minister Theresa May is now considering paying the money directly to individual households instead of councils and local trusts.

Dr Peers responded that it was ‘short-term gain’ with no consideration of the health consequences. He added: “Even if a council refuses permission, the government is intent on pushing through these schemes regardless of health and safety. It’s extremely worrying.”

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