Campaigners lose appeal

Fracking protest: Two protesters appealed against their sentences at Liverpool Crown Court

Fracking protest: Two protesters appealed against their sentences at Liverpool Crown Court

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Two protesters convicted of storming a drilling site in protest against fracking have lost their appeal against their sentences.

Lauren Pepperell and Edward Lloyd-Davis, both university graduates, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday to appeal against their convictions for aggravated trespass.

But following out-of-court negotiations, they dropped that appeal, but then sought to object to the sentences imposed by Preston Magistrates Court last July.

Pepperell, 27, and Lloyd-Davis, a 39-year-old unemployed astro-physicist, had both been convicted of two offences of aggravated trespass after they climbed 45 metres up to a drilling platform at the Cuadrilla Resources site in Bonny Barn Lane, Banks, near Southport, on November 2, 2011, in protest at the shale gas extraction technology being used at the site.

Lloyd-Davis was also convicted of assaulting a security guard who tried to stop them but today, after the prosecution agreed to offer no evidence on that charge, a not guilty verdict was recorded and his appeal against the conviction abandoned.

The couple, both of Rugby Place, Brighton, had both been given a two-year conditional discharge, and each ordered to pay £750 towards the £4,000 prosecution costs after the five-day case.

After hearing their appeal, along with two magistrates, Judge Heather Lloyd upheld the sentences and also ordered them to pay £100 each towards the costs of the appeal hearing.

The court heard that, as a result of the well-planned invasion by five or six protesters, the Cuadrilla site was closed down at a cost of £20,000 in lost time to the company and police had to be drafted in to deal with the situation.

Judge Lloyd said: “We recognise there is a right to protest, but it is a qualified right as any protest may be conducted within the law.”

She pointed out that their activity had been dangerous and, while fellow protesters had come down following police requests after their 5.40am arrival, they did not come down until 4pm.

The judge said that they were sure their beliefs “were genuine and sincerely held” but they were acting outside the law.

“You knew what you were doing was illegal and you know consequences follow.”