Barristers from Exchange Chambers secure Balcombe fracking possession order

November 14, 2013

Edward Bartley Jones QC and Chris Royle from Exchange Chambers have acted for West Sussex County Council in securing a possession order for the site of the much publicised Balcombe fracking protest. West Sussex County Council also obtained extensive injunctive relief against the persons still on the site and against those who may return to the site in due course.

The case emphasises that semi-permanent, and especially encamped, protest will normally be outside the protection afforded to protestors by Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

At the height of the protest more than 1000 people were on site, many of them in tents and caravans. The protest was against oil exploration by Cuadrilla.

Edward Bartley Jones QC said: “This will be a welcome decision for local authorities generally as the Judge (His Honour Judge Seymour QC sitting as a High Court Judge) focused closely on the true meaning and effect of Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention. He was of the view that nothing in these Articles justified a semi-permanent occupation of land against the wishes of the landowner.”

Added Edward:

“Protestors will now, therefore, find it much more difficult to rely on Articles 10 and 11 when they are interfering, on a long term basis, with the use of land against the wishes of its owners.”

West Sussex County Council had provided the protesters with a designated protest area and will continue to do so. As the Judge made clear, this designated protest area could be used only for the purposes of orthodox demonstrations and protests. It could not be used for overnight encampment or as a place of residence.