Chris Wilson, Katrina Lawrie and Lee Walsh will stand trial at Manchester Court today for breaching an injunction after being served prosecution papers by fracking firm Cuadrilla Resources.
If found guilty, the group will be deemed in contempt of court with the possibility of custodial sentences.
The injunction was taken out by fracking firm Cuadrilla in June 2018. Having faced years of opposition, the company sought to prevent any further protest activity obstructing its operations at the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire.
The Defendants will argue that the injunction is not lawful, as it interferes with the public right to protest, right to assembly and right to association under Articles 8, 9, 10 of the Human Rights Act.
The trial is expected to last three to four days. Supporters will gather outside the court on Tuesday 25 June.
The use of injunctions of this kind has previously been criticised because they provide corporations with the same legal protection as individuals, allowing corporations to effectively buy their own set of laws.
Sections of a similar injunction by chemicals giant Ineos were overturned in April 2019, following a lengthy legal battle by someone with extensive financial means. The injunction's impact on the rights to protest continue to be under scrutiny.
Cuadrilla recently applied for permission to frack its second well at the Preston New Road site, despite warnings to the UK Government last December that it would be unable to frack at profitable levels unless earthquake regulations were lifted.
Campaigners feel that this criminalisation of protest is a desperate attempt to force the UK fracking industry through, in the face of widespread public resistance and any legislative changes that could be made against fracking now that the UK Parliament has declared a Climate Emergency.
Nick Danby, a local resident living close to the Preston New Road site said: “After years of bullying their way through sustained public opposition in order to begin fracking in Lancashire, Cuadrilla is now attempting to throw people in jail to silence the movement against them.
"Sending protesters to jail has a chilling restriction on the right to assemble and the right to protest.
"This injunction was designed to make people too afraid to protest, but it won’t work. There is no public support for fracking and investors are getting cold feet. The three campaigners in court today have an entire community behind them.’’
This article is based on a press release from Reclaim the Power.