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Fracking property group tramples on protest rights

Landholder Peel Group has brought a case to evict anti-fracking protesters from its Barton Moss site

Landowners argued yesterday that their property rights should trump the right to protest as they fight fracking activists through the courts.

Landholder Peel Group has brought a case to evict anti-fracking protesters from its Barton Moss site at Manchester High Court in Salford.

The company allowed oil and gas explorer IGas to start drilling last year but almost 100 people have since set up camp on the land in an attempt to block works.

The cost of policing the site has now hit £700,000, with several people being arrested since November.

Environmental activists have suggested that evicting the camp would infringe on their freedom of expression and assembly - breaching the European Convention on Human Rights.

Barrister Katherine Holland QC, acting on behalf of Peel, said: "They have expressed their rights, so clearly it is not the case they are denied their freedom of expression if they have to leave the land."

The Con-Dem coalition has tried to argue that hydraulic fracturing helps boost employment, but scientists and green groups have warned about the dangers of the method.

More than seven in 10 Mancunians opposed fracking, according to a survey by the Manchester Evening News.

The technique forces carcinogenic chemicals and water into the ground to break rocks and release gas.

The hearing continues.

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