Fracking protesters fight eviction
Anti-fracking demonstrators will go to court today to oppose being evicted from their protest camp outside a drilling site.
Corporate giants Peel Investments have applied for possession of their land at Barton Moss in Salford, Greater Manchester, where around 60 protesters have set up camp.
The land is being leased to IGas, a firm carrying out exploratory drilling to see if gas extraction by fracking can be done there.
But since November anti-fracking groups have gathered in protest, disrupting work being done at the site with police making a series of arrests for public order offences.
Police say patrolling the site has cost taxpayers at least £700,000.
Peel, a giant real estate company, served notice to the protesters, handing out letters at the camp a fortnight ago, saying they were going to the High Court in Manchester in a bid to have them removed for trespass once and for all.
Katharine Holland QC, for Peel, told the hearing on February 21, the right to peaceful protest did not override the firm's right to recover possession of the land it owns.
But Lindsay Johnson, acting for the protesters, successfully argued they should be given more time to prepare a defence case to contest the eviction, citing potential breaches of their Human Rights.
Judge David Hodge QC granted the adjournment and will hear the eviction hearing today.
Barton Moss, on the outskirts of Salford, is one of a number of sites across the UK where fracking is being done.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a method to extract shale gas from rocks using water and chemicals under high pressure.
While the Government says it is a new energy source with potential to create jobs and wealth, opponents say it will damage the environment.