A judge has renewed an injunction obtained by energy giant Ineos prohibiting unlawful activities such as trespass or obstruction at its shale gas sites.
The order against “persons unknown” and two named individuals will run until a date to be arranged in mid-November, when a three-day hearing at London’s High Court will consider whether to continue it until trial, which could be 18 months away.
Ineos Shale is involved in exploratory work such as geological surveys in the East Midlands, but not any hydraulic fracking.
A number of protest groups have been launched to fight fracking, while Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also campaign against the technique of recovering gas and oil from shale rock.
On Tuesday, Mr Justice Morgan rejected argument that the potential impact of the injunction upon the human rights of those wishing to protest was a “knock-out blow” against it.
He said it was appropriate for the court to intervene and renewed the order with modifications.
“I am leaving everything open for argument but I am persuaded that the claimants should have protection until the matter comes back for a thorough examination.”
In July, Tom Pickering, operations director of Ineos Shale, said the injunction was a “pre-emptive” move based on direct action taken against other shale gas operators such as Cuadrilla, Dart Energy and Third Energy as well as against the firm’s own supply chain.
“What others have experienced was going to be coming our way.
“We are serving it to those who threaten unlawful action.
“We have a duty to do all we can to ensure the safety of everyone on and around our sites, including the protesters themselves.
“We are also clear that our people and suppliers have the right to come to work free from harassment and intimidation.
“In these circumstances it was right and responsible to seek these injunctions, and we are pleased that the court has agreed.”