Judge sentences anti fracking campaigners who 'glued gate' at Penwortham firm's site

Protestor Barbara Cookson
Protestor Barbara Cookson
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Five anti fracking campaigners have been banned from approaching the gates of a business where they launched a heated protest that saw them lose a day's business.

The group had to be physically cut away from a plastic pipe, and had glued a gate lock to prevent staff gaining access at plant firm A-Plant, in Penwortham, near Preston, on June 19.

The pop up protest, said to have involved around 20 people, was over a discovery that the company supplies goods to Cuadrilla - the firm at the centre of fracking operations in Lancashire.

District Judge Jane Goodwin, sitting at Preston Magistrates' Court, sentenced the defendants over a two day period and imposed a prohibited activity requirement, banning them going within 500 yards of the firm's entry gate.

During the trial, prosecutor Vincent Yip described how at 7.20am, Lancashire Police had to mount an operation to tackle the group, who were lay on the ground in front of the gates with sleeping bags, umbrellas and signs.

Their actions blocked staff from A-Plant and other firms entering and exiting the site at Factory Lane Trading Estate.

Calum Eden, 21, of no fixed abode, must do 80 hours unpaid work.

Michaela Smith, 57, and Shona Sutherland, 39, both of the New Hope Camp, Preston New Road, Blackpool, were ordered to do 40 hours unpaid work.

Barbara Ann Cookson, 66, of Lawrence Road, Liverpool, and Ashley Robinson, 22, of Cornwall Avenue, Blackpool, were given 60 hours unpaid work each.

All of the defendants were convicted of aggravated trespass and besetting a business place intending to prevent them doing a legal act, following a trial last week.

The judge ruled all of them must pay an £85 victim surcharge and £250 legal costs.

In a statement previously read in court, Michael Humphries, service centre manager at A-Plant, said the firm couldn't move any HGVs, affecting six deliveries and 20 pick ups, and effectively lost a days work.