‘Important victory’ against gas drillers but High Court battle looms

Campaigners outside the High Court on Monday
Campaigners outside the High Court on Monday

Anti-fracking campaigners have scored a huge victory after a drilling company was told to ‘shut up shop’.

The South Downs National Park Authority has ordered UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) to put its drill site at Markwells Wood back to how they found it and leave.

Green MEP Keith Taylor (centre) with anti-drilling campaigners at a previous protest

Green MEP Keith Taylor (centre) with anti-drilling campaigners at a previous protest

Ann Stewart from Markwells Wood Watch said: “We are delighted and we really do hope it is over now.

“As far as we can see because there is no right of appeal that’s it

“So we think we have won.”

In a separate development, the High Court has adjourned a decision on a ‘chilling’ injunction case brought by UKOG against anti-drilling protesters.

Protesters from Markwells Wood and Broadford Bridge took their fight to London

Protesters from Markwells Wood and Broadford Bridge took their fight to London

UKOG told to leave Markwells Wood site:

The park authority served UKOG with a breach of condition notice, giving them six months to remove all buildings and machinery as well as plug their well.

Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East, said: “I’m delighted the South Downs National Park Authority has told UKOG to shut up shop at Markwells Wood once and for all.

“This is a welcome victory for campaigners, local residents and anyone who cares about protecting our precious national parks.

“Markwell’s Wood is a beautiful and unique habitat and I am extremely happy it is going to stay that way.

“This victory would never have happened without the hard work of dedicated campaigners like Markwells Wood Watch who invested so much time and effort.

“The threat of water contamination, biodiversity loss, and local community and woodland tourism harm has now been averted.”

‘Small but important victory in the fight against oil and gas drilling’

“Ultimately, Markwells Wood represents one small, but important, victory in a region-wide fight against oil and gas drilling plans that will see the beautiful countryside pock-marked with wells.

“New oil and gas drilling operations are an affront to local communities and a dangerous form of climate change.”

Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth south east campaigner, said: “This is great news for local residents, as well as the environment.

“People were shocked that such a development could even be considered inside one of our most precious landscapes.”

High Court battle over protesting injunction

UKOG tried to bring an injunction to limit protest action at its sites at Broadford Bridge in Billingshurst and Markwells Wood.

On Monday the High Court in London adjourned the case.

Responding to the decision, Keith Taylor said: “Today’s decision has again proven the importance of dedicated and passionate local residents and environmental campaigners.

“These relentlessly peaceful heroes are standing up for not only our environment but our civil liberties too.

“The High Court has today thrown a spanner in the works for UKOG.

“The firm’s desired injunction would have a chilling effect on the right to lawful protest and campaigning right across the South East.

“The decision to delay, however, means the fight is not over.”

READ MORE: Drilling company seeks injunction to prevent protest actions