Quantcast

UK Jails First Environmental Activists in 86 Years Over Fracking Protest

Popular
Anti-fracking protesters Rich Loizou (L) Richard Roberts and Simon Roscoe-Blevins (R) stand outside Preston Crown Court where they are set to be sentenced for public nuisance on Sept. 25 in Preston, England. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Environmental activists were sentenced to prison Wednesday for their anti-fracking demonstrations in northwest England.

Roscoe Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, were given 16 months in prison. Richard Loizou, 31, was given 15 months. The three were found guilty of public nuisance offense by a jury in August, The Guardian reported. A fourth protester, Julian Brock, 47, received a 12-month suspended custodial sentence. He pleaded guilty for the same offense at a separate hearing.


In July 2017, the four men—also known as the Frack Free Four—climbed on top of trucks carrying drilling equipment in order to block the convoy from entering a fracking site in Lancashire operated by UK shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources. The men camped on the vehicles for roughly 100 hours between and had supporters aiding them with food, water and blankets.

Judge Robert Latham of Preston Crown Court ruled that the protests "caused costs and disruption" to Cuadrilla "but their other victims were the many members of public who were nothing to do with Cuadrilla," according to the BBC.

While the judge noted that environmental matters are to be taken seriously, he believes that the men "provide a risk of re-offending."

"Each of them remains motivated by unswerving confidence that they are right. Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions," he said. "Given the disruption caused in this case, only immediate custody can achieve sufficient punishment."

The men are likely the first environmental activists in 86 years to receive jail sentences, the Guardian reported. Back in 1932, five men were jailed for their part in the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in Derbyshire over their "right to roam" on private land.

"This won't break us, we will come out stronger," Blevins said in a statement to Climate Home News after his sentencing. "Some may view us as victims, but we refuse to be victimized by this. The real victims will be future generations suffering preventable disasters caused by climate change. Our friends and fellow campaigners outside will continue to fight for a ban on fracking and for a just transition to a renewable and democratically owned energy system."

The drilling site near Preston New Road is at the center of high profile, anti-fracking protests in England. Lancashire police have arrested more than 300 since Cuadrilla started building a fracking pad at the location in January 2017, according to The Guardian.

Fracking is a contentious topic in the UK. Even though it's banned or on hold in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, England's Conservative-led government has advocated for exploration and drilling licenses, as EcoWatch previously mentioned. Controversially, Cuadrilla was allowed to initiate drilling after the UK government overruled Lancashire County Council's rejection of two applications from the company to frack in Lancashire.

"It's a strange society that massively rewards those responsible for causing more climate change while putting those trying to stop it in jail," Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said Wednesday in an online statement after the sentencing. "Ministers have changed laws, taken away homeowners' rights and distorted the planning process to make way for the shale industry, yet it's four peaceful protesters that get punished for climbing on a lorry."

"As the world's leading scientists are about to issue their latest warning on the existential threat fossil fuels pose to our living world, these Lancashire protesters deserve our gratitude, not a prison term," Sauven added. "They have done what this government promised to do but is yet to deliver—making sure that we can leave our children and grandchildren a healthier environment than the one we found."

Cuadrilla announced last week it will soon begin fracking following government approval of a second well at its New Preston Road site.

No fracking has taken place in the UK in seven years after fracking by Cuadrilla near Blackpool caused earthquakes in 2011, Reuters reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Nov. 8. Matt Johnson / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

Joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders held the largest rally of any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date in Iowa, drawing more than 2,400 people to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

Read More Show Less

Scientists have developed an innovative way to protect endangered rhinos from poaching: flood the market for rhino horn with a cheap, fake alternative.

Read More Show Less
With fires burning across the country, Australian officials say the situation is "unchartered territory." CBC News / YouTube screenshot

More than 130 wildfires were burning on Australia's East Coast Sunday, The Guardian reported. The blazes have killed three and destroyed at least 150 structures so far, and conditions are expected to worsen Tuesday, when the greater Sydney area will face "catastrophic fire danger" for the first time.

Read More Show Less