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Trucks backing up at Barton Moss following the 'footpath ruling'. Photo: Barton Moss Protest Camp.
Trucks backing up at Barton Moss following the 'footpath ruling'. Photo: Barton Moss Protest Camp.
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  • Protestors blocking vehicles at Barton Moss. Photo: Barton Moss Protest Camp.
    Protestors blocking vehicles at Barton Moss. Photo: Barton Moss Protest Camp.

Protestors' 'Fracking victory' at Barton Moss

Oliver Tickell

14th February 2014

Protestors at the Barton Moss fracking site have held off all deliveries to the rig for two days after a judge ruled that the 'road' they were using is actually a footpath. Will iGas now back off for good?

A long convoy of massive lorries built up on the main road outside while protestors partied in the rain.

After a District Judge ruling in Manchester Magistrates Court ruled this week that Barton Moss Road was a 'public footpath' rather than a highway with vehicular rights, Greater Manchester police have backed off - and protestors are celebrating!

The ruling means that the road is still a right of way for pedestrians, but not for vehicles. So there no offence is committed when protestors block vehicular traffic. 

Is it the end?

Following the ruling the protestors have now held off all vehicle movements for two days. A long convoy of massive lorries built up on the main road outside while protestors partied in the rain, but following police advice most trucks have now withdrawn altogether

The drilling at Barton Moss is already well behind schedule, thanks in part to the protestors, but now two whole days have been added - with no end in sight.

"We estimate that the drill-rig is costing iGas somewhere in the region of £20,000 per day, and their total daily operating costs will be somewhere north of £50,000", claimed one protestor on the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp Facebook page.

"How long can they keep this news away from the markets?"

Additional repercussions

The 'footpath ruling' may have other consequences. For a start, the 100 or so protestors that have been arrested for 'obstructing the highway' cannot be charged with this crime if they were obstructing vehicles, as the vehicles have no right of way on a footpath.

Futhermore vehicles on the site itself may be trapped there for some considerable period as it is an offence under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act to drive a vehicle on a footpath, unless the vehicle has a specific right to use it, or in case of a life-threatening emergency.

Indeed the protestors' next move may be to press the police to prosecute the truckers who have been illegally driving on the footpath - yet another nightmare for iGas and its subcontractors.

 

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