Anti-fracking protesters block gates to Kirby Misperton site

The planned fracking site in Kirby Misperton, where company Third Energy intends to conduct test-drilling to see if the process is commercially viable.

Police and anti-fracking campaigners have both called for calm amid another day of protest at Third Energy’s Kirby Misperton site in North Yorkshire.

Shortly after 10am today, North Yorkshire Police reported that two people were lying in the road at the hydraulic fracturing site with their arms locked into a metal device.

A scene from last Wednesday, when North Yorkshire Police worked to free protesters chained together in the entrance to the Third Energy site. Picture by Tony Johnson.

The force said that four vehicles containing about 15 people attended the site at 4am this morning and unloaded the metal device, which is believed to be a propane gas canister.

In a statement, the force added: “A police officer, one of two officers at the scene at the time, was pushed to the ground by a group of people and suffered an ankle injury after the device was pushed onto his foot.

“A security guard, a man in his 40s, sustained a bite injury to his hand during the incident.

“Two men lay in the road and locked their arms into the device. They remain there at this time. The investigation into the incident is ongoing.”

Protesters belonging to Kirby Misperton Protection Camp (KMPC) issued their own statement to the press, in which they claimed members of the group had been “manhandled” by police.

The KMPC said: “The group arrived around 4am with a lock on device. While they were carrying it, two police officers physically intervened and began pushing the protectors. Security guards also came outside of Third Energy property, and their jurisdiction, and manhandled the protectors on the public highway.”

Both sides called for calm.

Superintendent Alisdair Dey, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “A police officer and a member of the public have been injured in this incident. This kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable, and will be investigated thoroughly and dealt with appropriately.

“Our officers are there to support and protect people engaged in peaceful protest, and the safety of everyone at the site remains our priority.”

A spokesperson for KMPC said: “Our actions are always peaceful, at no point do we wish to enter into any kind of confrontation with the police or security. We ask North Yorkshire Police and Next Level Security to please consider everybody’s safety to avoid the risk of serious injury. Our focus has always been to protect Ryedale’s land and communities from fracking. Long after Third Energy have gone, the police and the community will still be living together. Let’s not burn bridges.”

The police said officers remained at the site “to ensure the two men in the road are safe and well”.

A North Yorkshire Police team with specialist training and cutting equipment is assessing the scene, the force said, adding: “At this time, Habton Road in Kirby Misperton remains open, but local road users should anticipate some delays due to the disruption caused.”

The latest protest follows a week of action last week which, on Wednesday, resulted in four people being charged by police after lying in the road with their arms locked into metal tubing.

Police report that a total of 26 people were arrested at the site in September.

Of those arrested, two were released with no further action, two accepted cautions, and the other 22 have been charged to court, for offences including obstructing the highway, assaulting a police officer and resisting a police officer.

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