Police step up presence at Blackpool court as anti-fracking protester granted bail

Blackpool Magistrates Court
Blackpool Magistrates Court
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Police presence was increase at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court for the first court appearance of an anti-fracking protester Louise Hammond.

Hammond, 52, formerly of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, who gave her address in court as the Blackpool Protection Camp, Whitehills Retail Park, Preston New Road, Blackpool, is accused of being one of the four protestors who chained themselves together at the fracking drill site on Preston New Road blocking the entrance.

It is said police warned the quartet under the public order act after they obstructed the access road at about 7.30am on Tuesday that they should leave by 9.15am.

It is alleged they remained in place and along with other protesters prevented trucks entering the site where Cuadrilla’s workers are preparing a drill pad for test fracking later this year.

Hammond pleaded not guilty to an offence under the public order act of failing to comply with a police direction to leave at Westby on January 31.

She pleaded guilty to breaching a previously imposed bail condition not to enter the Borough of Fylde for any reason except to travel through to attend her listed court hearing at which she will face an offence of obstructing the highway as part of a fracking protest.

Prosecutor, Pam Smith, asked for her bail condition to continue saying: “The defendant is part of a national organisation and protests are being professionally organised. The Crown says the bail condition is proportionate.”

Defence lawyer, Adam Bonney, asked for his client’s bail to be unconditional. He said: “Anti fracking is not a national organisation.

“My client feels passionately about anti-fracking. The court is being asked to restrict her right to protest.”

Hammond’s case was adjourned to March 1 for her to face the obstruction charge and March 3 for failing to comply with a police direction to leave.

She was given unconditional bail. Magistrates said that to have imposed a condition to her bail would not be proportionate.

• Jared Dunne, 22, of Manchester Road, Warrington; Edward Thornton, 33, of, Pickering, North Yorkshire and Joseph Boyd, 43, of Blyth Hey, Bootle were charged with Section 14 fail to comply with prohibited assembly police direction and are due to appear before Blackpool Magistrates Court on March 3.