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Anti-fracker’s relief over light sentence and a free drink

ANTI-FRACKING protester Heather Stroud was celebrating yesterday after only receiving a conditional discharge for chaining herself to the gates of a drilling site in rural North Yorkshire.

The Frack Free Ryedale activist said her court appearance in York was “pure theatre” and that the sentence was a green light for environment campaigners to challenge the government over its plans to help energy firms which use the controversial energy extraction process.

Ms Stroud was arrested and charged for obstruction after she chained herself to the gates of a fracking site at Kirby Misperton where energy exploitation firm Third Energy is drilling for gas.

She was given a conditional discharge at York magistrates’ court, a light sentence which means she must refrain from taking disruptive action at the site before March next year.

Ms Stroud told the Morning Star: “There were 40 people supporting me at the court. The outcome was that I got a conditional discharge. There weren’t even any costs.

“The judge was great and even the crown prosecutor bought me a drink.”

The Kirby Misperton site — where a local mayor is trying to open a judicial review into Third Energy’s activities — is one of many across the country attracting regular protests.

In Preston New Road, near Fylde, locals have set up a permanent protest camp after central government overruled Lancashire councils’ decision to refuse planning permission.

Fracking involves drilling deep into the Earth’s surface to reach layers of shale, then pumping in a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand and water to shatter the shale to release gas — polluting water supplies.

Ministers have announced plans to take away local councils’ ability to block fracking sites.

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