Anti-fracking protesters have lost their battle to save the Upton Protection Camp which has been in place since early 2014.
A judge at Manchester County Court has just announced the camp will have to be removed from Duttons Lane in Upton by December 4 following an eviction notice hearing which has been taking place today.
Protesters from Chester travelled to the court to stage a demonstration outside the building before the hearing got under way just after 10.30am.
They were joined by Chester MP Chris Matheson who, along with Chronicle reporter David Holmes, was initially refused entry to the court because an official said it was full. Both were later admitted following an intervention by the judge but Mr Matheson has said he plans to raise the matter with the Speaker in the House of Commons.
The action was brought by farmers Tim and Piers Dutton, the freehold owners of the land, along with Dart Energy (West England) Ltd and IGas Energy Plc who are now the leaseholders.
Legal representatives of the anti-fracking group put forward their arguments for the camp to stay this morning while lawyers for the applicants delivered their rebuttal after lunch.
Defeated anti-fracking camp resident Phil Whyte, a named co-defendant in the case, said afterwards he was 'a bit gutted' but pleased the judge had allowed 28 days for occupants to leave the site instead of granting an immediate order.
Asked if there would be resistance when the energy company bailiffs turned up, he responded: "We'll have to see on that one."
Phil also said the campaigners were considering whether to appeal the decision. They have 21 days to decide whether to take their case to the Court of Appeal.
Upton Labour Cllr Matt Bryan, a long time opponent of fracking, was adamant the fight goes on.
The delayed enforcement of the eviction was 'a tribute to those who have put their lives on hold to protect the land'.
Eco warrior John McNamara took heart from the judge's view that campaigners had a right to protest.
He promised more of the same but wouldn't be drawn on what form any future action may take.
He added: "At the end of the day the people of Upton and Chester don't want this, so we have to keep on standing up to be counted to say 'Look, we are here and we are not going away'."
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