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Upton anti-fracking protesters on trial in Cheshire

Anti-fracking sign Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In February IGas said it had "decided not to progress" plans for commercial drilling at the site

Eight anti-fracking campaigners have gone on trial charged in connection with a protest at a test drilling site in Cheshire.

Bailiffs and police moved to evict protesters from the site in Upton, near Chester, in January.

Campaigners had built an elaborate series of fortifications, including a network of tunnels, walls and a moat.

Councillor Matthew Bryan is among those on trial, charged with obstructing a police officer.

The Cheshire West and Chester councillor is accused of climbing on to a cherry picker after being directed to leave the site.

His defence claims he was trying to prevent it from moving into the field, where some campaigners had retreated into underground tunnels, as he was worried the weight of it would cause the land to collapse.

Image copyright Frack Free Dee Coalition
Image caption Police moved in following an order for protesters to leave the site in Upton, near Chester

Appearing at Chester Magistrates Court, all defendants denied various charges.

A ninth defendant has had her trial postponed amid health problems.

Campaigners set up camp at the site in April 2014 in the hope of preventing drilling by energy company IGas.

In November 2015 they were served with a court order compelling them to leave the site, before the authorities moved in.

IGas later said it had "decided not to progress" plans for commercial drilling in the area.

The trial is expected to last a week.

Full list of defendants:

  • Matthew Bryan, 30, charged with obstructing a constable
  • Richard Burcumshaw, 65, charged with assaulting a constable
  • Trky Cairns, 42, charged with failing to comply with a direction excluding a person from an area
  • Lanner Davies, 24, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer
  • John Thomas Hall, 51, charged with obstructing/resisting a constable
  • Louise Hammond, 53, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer
  • Simon John Stafford-Smith, 38, charged with failing to comply with a direction excluding a person from an area
  • Jamie Douglas Watson, 34, charged with resisting/obstructing an enforcement officer

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