Upton anti-fracking camp: Arrests made at eviction

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Media captionFootage filmed by the protesters shows bailiffs outside the campsite

Nine people have been arrested during an operation to remove a group of anti-fracking protesters from a test drilling site.

Campaigners set up camp at Upton, near Chester, in April 2014 to prevent testing by energy company IGas.

In November, they were served with a court order compelling them to leave the site.

Image caption The first arrest saw a man carried off the site by police officers

Cheshire Police said two men had been arrested for "obstructing police" and another for "obstructing the highway".

A man and woman were arrested for obstructing a high court officer, while another man was arrested for "failing to comply with a Section 35 notice", a spokeswoman said.

Another man was arrested for police assault, another for aggravated trespass.

She added that more than 20 dispersal notices had been issued.

Image caption One of the remaining protesters is threatening to loosen his scaffold tower if the bailiffs try to remove him

The BBC's Cheshire political reporter Phil McCann said about 30 protesters had been at the camp but all protesters had been evicted.

Supporters had entered an adjacent field but bailiffs ushered them out and police escorted them away.

Camp resident Phil Whyte, who was there since the day it was set up, said he had left of his own accord, because he was "cold, tired and worried about my cat".

Bailiffs, supported by police from Cheshire and North Wales, arrived at the site at about 10:00 GMT to begin the eviction process.

Image caption Protesters have built defences at the site to resist eviction

A woman was treated at the scene by paramedics at 12:28 GMT and declined to be taken to hospital, according to a spokesperson for the North West Ambulance Service.

From the scene: BBC Cheshire Political Reporter Phil McCann

For the first two hours, there was a stand-off between the bailiffs, police and protesters - then we saw the first arrest as a man was carried horizontally through a field.

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Media captionThe protesters have built a network of underground tunnels at the site

After seven hours of action the camp was quiet by 17:00 GMT, when the last of the protesters was taken down.

He was arrested, but many others left of their own free will.

It's clear the campers didn't manage to resist for as long as they may have hoped, but their 20-month stay is meant to serve as a serious deterrent to any companies wanted to frack.

A Cheshire Police spokeswoman said the force expected a "protracted" operation and closed Duttons Lane, which leads to the camp.

She added that officers were "monitoring the situation and ensuring public safety".

Since being served the eviction notice, the protesters constructed an elaborate series of fortifications, including a network of tunnels, walls and a moat to try to prevent their removal.

'Can't be moved'

Frack Free Dee Coalition said protesters would take "peaceful direct action" and would do "everything we can to defend ourselves".

Member Anna Davies said her group's position had not changed.

"We are resisting - we will resist," she said.

Image copyright Frack Free Dee Coalition
Image caption Police have closed off the Duttons Lane entrance to the site

An IGas spokesman said the company "respect the right to peaceful protest, [but] these protesters are trespassing as determined by the High Court".

The planning permission for IGas to run tests at the site runs out on 28 May.

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