Three protestors who stormed a drilling site in a protest against fracking have been found guilty of aggravated trespass.
Lauren Pepperell, 26, and Edward Lloyd-Davis, 38, scaled a pipe rack at the Cuadrilla Resources site in Bonny Barn Lane, Banks, and hung a banner in protest to the technology being explored at the site.
Barbara Cookson, 61, also went on to the site in the early hours of November 2 last year and along with Lloyd-Davis has also been found guilty of assaulting a security guard who tried to stop them.
All three defendants have been handed conditional discharges and ordered to pay £750 towards prosecution costs after District Judge Peter Ward said there was a long history of “civil disobedience” in a democratic society.
As a result of the invasion the Cuadrilla site was closed down at a cost of £20,000 in lost time to the company.
Sentencing the activists, Judge Ward said: “There are times where there is civil disobedience and it turns out subsequently to be justified but whether that is the case here is not for me to judge.”
He referred to the sentencing of the suffragettes in the early 20th century and added: “It is the mark of a civilised society that it can accommodate protestors of this kind.”
However he added: “There are democratic means for dealing with these issues.”
Judge Ward said :”Having heard the defendants and considered their references I am quite satisfied that they (the defendants) are not only persons of good character but are persons who hold genuine and strong views about the effects of climate change and the consequences for all of us that live on the planet.”
However he said on the day of the protest the police had adopted a strategy which would allow them to end their protest peacefully
Judge Ward said he found the assertion made by Lloyd-Davis that they did not hear the warning - relayed to them by radio - as “disingenuous”.
He said Lloyd-Davis swung his arm out when his back-pack was grabbed by security and Cookson intervened to help him break free. This amounted to an assault, he ruled.
Throughout the four day trial at Preston Magistrates Court, members of anti-fracking protest groups sat in the public gallery in support of Pepperell and Lloyd-Davis, of Rugby Place, Brighton, and Cookson, of Garrick Street, Liverpool. Judge Ward noted their conduct throughout the trial had been respectful and without disobedience.