Bailiffs move in on protest camp

Police arrested three men during the demolition and removal of a protest camp set up by environmental campaigners at Crawberry Hill, Walkington.

Tuesday, 20th January 2015, 4:58 pm
Antifracking Campainers - Crawberry Hill Near Walkington, Eviction

Officers had been called in to keep the peace after East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) sent in a team of bailiffs to remove timber buildings, caravans and tents from a highway verges.

But protestors have vowed to remain at the site to monitor the operations of Rathlin Energy Ltd, which is carrying out underground tests for shale gas.

Protesters say the activity could lead to fracking - the extraction of gas by fracturing rock - which poses a risk of pollution to the water aquifer, among other hazards.

Antifracking Campainers - Crawberry Hill Near Walkington, Eviction

The bailiff action follows a notice served under the Highways Act last month in which the council requested that protesters remove the camp on the grounds that it was unsafe both to road users and to people living there, as well being constructed illegally as it was on highway land.

ERYC director of planning, Alan Menzies said protesters had been removed safely and structures had been dismantled, but he said it was not an eviction, and that the council had offered an area of the highway verge on which protesters could demonstrate.

He said: “We have never had an issue with people’s right to protest and to object to activities that are taking place. Our action today is simply the removal of structures.”

Meanwhile, police closed off Walkington Heads, the road to the protest camp, while the enforcement took place.

Antifracking Campainers - Crawberry Hill Near Walkington, Eviction

Walkington residents Mike and Ann Brookes said they’d been denied access.

Ann said: “The dangers of fracking are multitude but the main danger in this area is that it could pollute the water because we take all our water from the aquifer which runs under the wolds and if they’re drilling through the aquifer and a leak occurs of the fluids that they put down for fracking then all our water will be polluted.”

Jon Mager of Frack Free East Yorkshire said: “It is particularly shocking in a society with a free press that even the media were prevented from walking down the road to bear witness to what was going on.” Some people at site also found their phones could not take pictures or video, as if electronically jammed.”

The three men, aged 28, 41 and 53, were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway. The 53-year -old was also accused of assaulting a police officer.

Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart welcomed the action.

He said: “Whilst I support fully the legitimate right of all those who want to protest, there is no right for people to erect a permanent structure on the verge of a public highway.

It had gone way beyond the reasonable limits of protest and had become a hazard to road users. I am delighted that this unsightly, disruptive structure is going to be taken down. The council deserve every credit for listening to residents’ concerns and for removing this safety hazard from the side of the road.”

The camp has been at the site for more than eight months.