Bailiffs acting for an energy firm have arrived to evict a protest camp set up in a field on the outskirts of Chester where the company wants to set up a test drill in the search for gas.
Anti-fracking campaigners at the site in Duttons Lane, Upton, are determined to stop IGas drilling an exploratory coalbed methane well because of fears over the environmental impact especially if a full scale fracking operation follows.
A round robin text went round supporters at 9.50am this morning which stated: “ALERT ALERT! Bailiffs are at the camp NOW! COME NOW and tell everyone!”
Police are at the site in large numbers, as well as bailiffs, but state that their role is to uphold ‘all lawful rights’.
A spokesperson said previously: “Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest, whilst ensuring that others can continue with their legitimate business unhindered.”
Activists who arrived on site in April 2014 have created a medieval-style moat, tree houses, precarious towers on which they will perch and high wooden walls.
Talking about preparations for non-violent resistance on eviction day, camp resident Phil Whyte told The Chronicle previously: “We’ve got tunnels all over the place, we’ve got tree houses, we’ve got lock-ons – a lock-on can be anything from a barrel full of concrete that you lock onto with your arm – we’ve got plenty of what we call defences in place.
“More importantly we’ve got people who are determined even though they’re tired. Even though they’re tired they’re still to determined not to allow them to frack on this land.”
Anti-fracking Upton Labour Cllr Matt Bryan, speaking live from the scene, said had been unable to get to the actual camp as police has ‘renegued’ on an agreement to maintain access along Duttons Lane. But he added: “I understand people have been able to get to the defences – underground tunnels and aerial defences.”
He confirmed the BBC’s One Show is due to film at the camp today.
IGas sought an eviction notice at the High Court at the end of last year after the protesters failed to move of their own accord. The company is now enforcing the notice through the use of bailiffs.
IGas spokesman David Petrie said in a previous statement: “We respect the right to peaceful protest however it has been made clear to the protestors they are on our site illegally and without consent. Having recently taken ownership of the lease for the site, we expect the protesters to cease occupation and leave peacefully.”