THE company which holds a fracking licence for Winsford has taken out a High Court injunction in a bid to stop protesters at its sites.

INEOS, which was awarded a licence to frack on land between Kelsall and Wimboldsley in December 2015, gained an interim injunction last week to prevent obstruction or interference in its activities.

It means that would-be protesters could be imprisoned or fined if they cause obstructions, are found slow walking or attaching themselves to vehicles or objects, cause any criminal damage or theft, or interfere with companies working with INEOS, such as suppliers.

The firm, which also holds fracking licences covering Northwich and Knutsford, claims that the injunction should maintain peace.

But anti-fracking campaigners fear the state is becoming more complicit in facilitating fracking – and that the injunction goes against the human right to peaceful protest.

Nigel Hennerley, energy and environment spokesman at Cheshire East Green Party, said: “It is clear that, if fracking were to go ahead, people may have little faith in the authorities that are supposed to be there to protect us.

“No wonder then that some might want to object and take peaceful action to disrupt an unproven, high-risk industry which has the real potential to contaminate our environment and damage our health for generations to come.”

A spokesman at INEOS told the Guardian: “The injunctions secured at the High Court will help to ensure safety and protect people on and around our sites. They prohibit unlawful acts by a militant minority whilst protecting the rights of peaceful protest and free speech.

“INEOS is committed to ensuring the safety of the public, staff, landowners and suppliers whilst continuing to listen and talk to local communities.”