Two co-defendants also given prison sentences, 1 other handed suspended sentence after pleading guilty.
Simon Blevins (26), Richard Loizou (31) and Richard Roberts (36) are first environmental protestors to be sent to prison since the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932
Sheffield resident Simon ‘Roscoe’ Blevins (26), along with two others, have become the first environmental protestors to be imprisoned in the UK since the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932 as part of the Right-to-Roam movement.
The mass direct action 86 years ago led to a change in the law to allow right to roam and ultimately to the creation of the Peak District as the UK’s first National Park.
Simon Blevins and Richard Roberts were sentenced to 16 months each and Richard Loizou to 15 months.
A fourth man, Julian Brock, pleaded guilty and was handed a 12 month suspended sentence.
Natalie Bennett, former leader of the Green Party and Sheffield Green Party member, said:
“Sheffield resident Simon Blevins was today sent to jail for a non-violent direction action in Lancashire in opposition to fracking.
“The people of Lancashire, through their county council, said ‘no’ to fracking. The people of Britain are overwhelmingly opposed to fracking, and it is already blocked in Wales and Scotland.
“Simon and his three co-accused took peaceful action in response to the government and Cuadrilla ignoring the will of the people.
“That they were sent to jail today is a new low: it is 86 years since peaceful protesters were similarly jailed, for the Kinder Scout mass trespass.
“We know that action ultimately led to significant change and democratisation of our countryside.
“So today is also a high, for I’ve no doubt the injustice of these sentences will further galvanise the anti-fracking and pro-democracy movements around England.
The three men climbed onto lorries taking drilling equipment onto the fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.
Lancashire County Council rejected a planning application from Cuadrilla to frack on the site in June 2015 but this was overturned by the then Communities Secretary (now Home Secretary) Sajid Javid in 2016.
Central Government overturning a local Council’s decision has led to widespread opposition amongst local people and the defendants received considerable support while they were occupying the lorries, as well as outside their court appearances.
“It is plain that we now have a government that does not reflect the will or wishes of the people, a law that privileges the profits of the few over the wellbeing of us all in a world where climate change and levels of poverty and inequality threaten our futures.
“The brave action of Simon and his co-accused has helped highlight our lack of democracy and equity, and I’ve no doubt they’ll in future be celebrated as the Kinder trespassers are today celebrated.”
“Sheffield is surrounded by sites of anti-fracking protest, at Marsh Lane, Tinker Lane and Misson. I’d urged everyone who can to take the time to visit one of them to show their support for the struggle, and to urge everyone to use social media to express their disgust at today’s sentences.”
The defendants’ lawyer argued the ‘political process has been exhausted’ adding that the right to freedom of speech goes beyond ‘simply standing and shouting’.