Natalie Hynde, the daughter of former Kinks frontman Ray Davies and Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde, has been found guilty of “besetting,” or causing difficulty to, a test-drilling site in Balcombe, England. The 32-year-old, along with 55-year-old Simon Medhurst, had superglued themselves together around the drill site’s gate on July 31st to create a “striking and symbolic” media image, according to The BBC, to raise awareness about fracking (a technique to fracture shale rock and retrieve natural gasses within). Hynde and Medhurst both denied wrongdoing.
Hydraulic fracking has become controversial because of the high number of tanker trucks required to transport water to drilling sites where it is reportedly mixed with toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Once absorbed into the shale, the chemical water can contaminate drinking water, according to opponents of the practice.
Despite their claims, a judge said the pair “went beyond reasonable freedom of speech.” Furthermore, district magistrate William Ashworth said that Hynde and Medhurst did beset the site “in the true meaning of the word” because they had blocked access to it. The blockade cost the drilling firm Cuadrilla £5,000 ($8,300). Hynde was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £400 and a £15 “victim surcharge”; Medhurst was told to pay £200 and a £20 victim surcharge.
But it could have been differently disruptive: Hynde said her original plan was to dig a tunnel at the site. Instead, she tried superglue because it was easier. “I wanted it to look peaceful, with the hands around the gate, and superglue seemed fast,” she said. “I hadn’t done it either, so I thought it would be a good thing to try.” She did not know how long the fixative would hold. “If it did [obstruct access to the site], then great,” Hynde said. “That wasn’t the intention.”
When questioned by a prosecutor, Hynde said that raising awareness by using her parents’ names would not have been as effective as the superglue stunt. “If you are saying that holding a placard is enough, then it isn’t,” she said. “I have done those things and I wanted to take it one step further.”
Hynde and Medhurst were tried alongside three other defendants, who all denied charges related to the Balcombe protest; one was convicted of obstructing the highway and another was cleared of besetting. The third did not show up to court.