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Media release by Heather Stroud before her trial at York Magistrates Court on 30th August for chaining herself to the gate at Third Energy Fracking Site at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, UK (30th January 2018).

Media release by Heather Stroud before her trial at York Magistrates Court on 30th August for chaining herself to the gate at Third Energy Fracking Site at Kirby Misperton, North Yorkshire, UK (30th January 2018).

An earlier trial scheduled for 16th July was adjourned due to the Court copy of the defence ‘harms evidence documents’ , submitted in June, being mislaid and not found until the morning of the trial, by which time the District Judge had no time to read it.


It’s not pleasant to stand in front of a court and defend oneself; however, the overwhelming evidence of harms that fracking would bring to our community, and, in fact, globally through depleted clean water resources and rising temperatures, is so great that those of us acting as environmental protectors felt there was no choice but to engage in civil action.

Fracking is just a symptom of a bigger, far more insidious problem where our government, in servitude to corporate lobbyists, has placed the rights of corporations above that of humans and of the natural world. Without social licence to frack, this abandonment of their mandate to serve the interests of the people, raises issues of the State’s disregard for democracy and human rights. As a further step in this decline of democracy Westminster have proposed to fast track fracking applications by taking the licensing decision making process out of the hands of local people and local councils.

This ‘permitted development’, policy, which makes it as easy to build a garden shed as it is to carry out industrial scale fracking, has given rise to not only protest, but litigation being brought by Paul Andrews, local councillor and Mayor of Malton. This creative legal challenge of the State’s undemocratic policy has the full support of residents in Ryedale.

It is the failure of the State that brings about protest, legal and otherwise. Change has never come about without struggle and often the criminalisation of those on the forefront of change. To quote from human rights lawyer, Benedict Coyen: ‘Rights are not conferred on us by the State, they are inherently ours by virtue of our being human’. By chaining myself to the gate at KM8 I was symbolically claiming back democracy…, democracy that rightfully belongs in the hands of the people. My defence is that my action was premeditated…., premeditated, thought through because I was not willing to see irretrievable damage done to our environment that ‘scientific evidence suggests’ could have devastating consequences to all life forms.

I wrote my (‘statement of defence’ -submitted to police at the time of arrest) before I had decided what action I would take. As a signatory of the Earth Protection Trust, I shall be using article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and defending myself as a person of conscience, obliged to take action to prevent greater harms being committed. To support this claim of harm I shall call upon expert witness, Professor Nick Cowern.

As a mother and grandmother I shall be challenging this industry, along with others locally and globally, in the role of human rights defender. The rights of nature… the rights of children and of future generations, are enshrined in human rights and environmental law.

Heather Stroud is an activist

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