LAWYERS are preparing for legal arguments about the anti-fracking protests at Kirby Misperton.

Since October, 36 people have appeared before York Magistrates Court on a total of 43 charges in connection with demonstrations and activities by anti-fracking campaigners.

District judge Adrian Lower has set aside January 11 for a day of legal arguments about many of the cases.

More new cases are listed for York Magistrates Court on other days this month.

The CPS has declined to prosecute some cases charged by the police and some people have been arrested, but not charged.

All the cases are connected to protests against Third Energy’s activities on a site off Habton Road. The energy company started preparatory work in September and hopes to start fracking this year.

People opposed to fracking have been camping near the site for a year and have also set up a second camp by its front gate.

Of the 36 defendants that have appeared before court so far, 23 said they lived at the protestors’ camp. Others have given addresses in Pickering, Great Habton, York, Hull, Liverpool, Nottingham, Oxford, and County Durham, among other places. Their ages range from 18 to 72.

Two defendants have pleaded guilty to charges against them and been fined or conditionally discharged.

Between them, the other 34 deny 14 charges of obstructing Habton Road, 13 of obstructing or resisting police, three of assaulting a police officer, eight charges brought under trade law legislation of besetting a place or hindering the carrying out of a lawful activity, one of criminal damage, two of endangering road users and one of getting onto a vehicle on a road.

All the offences are alleged to have been committed between September 20 and November 6, mostly in or close to the Third Energy site, but in a few cases in Whitby or on the A64. All the cases will be dealt with at the magistrates court.

A charge of using threatening words and behaviour was thrown out and the defendant formally acquitted at his first appearance before the court.