A media rights row has broken out after energy giant Npower handed a High Court injunction to a news photographer covering the company?s controversial activities at Radley Lakes in Oxfordshire.
The location is the site of ongoing environmental protests over Npower?s policy of dumping some of its waste ash into the lakes from nearby Didcot Power Station, a policy for which Npower stresses it has planning permission. The lakes are reported to be home to protected species such as otters. Npower owns part of the site.
The injunction effectively prevents press photographs of Npower staff working at the site.
An Npower spokeswoman claims the injunction was necessary because the company fears that publication of pictures of staff working there will result in their identification and potential harassment.
She confirmed that the injunction was handed to photographer Adrian Arbib on 14 February.
Arbib claimed he was standing on public property when he was approached by four security guards and two lawyers, according to a report by the Editorial Photographers UK & Ireland (EPUK) of which he is a member.
Among those fearing an infringement of media rights is The National Union of Journalists which has pledged to investigate the situation.
Giving his initial reaction to AP, Pete Jenkins, vice chair of the NUJ?s Photographers Sub Committee, condemned the injunction as ?totally unjustified.?
According to NPower, if published, photographs taken at the site could lead to the identification of staff through, for example, the vehicle number plates that the pictures reveal. However, Npower wants to make it clear that it is not aware of any such pictures having been published.
The NPower spokeswoman insisted the injunction does not imply a ?blanket ban? on media photography. ?This is not the intention of the injunction,? she told AP.
But she conceded that the injunction applies to everyone who knowingly captures pictures, the publication of which clearly identifies those working for NPower or staff contracted by the company.
?It?s not to preclude the media in any shape or form. It is to protect and preserve the identity of staff who have felt threatened,? added the spokeswoman.
When asked whether the media can take photographs provided that faces, for example, are ?pixelated? on publication the spokeswoman indicated that Npower did not yet know the position on this.
Arbib is understood to have been recording the company?s activities at Radley Lakes for publications including The Guardian newspaper.
NPower hinted to AP that it is considering issuing a ?protocol? for press photographers to follow at Radley Lakes. The spokeswoman confirmed that the company has been in talks with local newspaper editors to work out a possible agreement.
Protests at the site have escalated since Npower used a separate High Court injunction to remove ?squatters? in a building on the Radley Lakes site earlier this year. Since then the company says it has employed ?security officers? at the site.
We will keep tabs on this developing story.
For more details of EPUK?s report on the incident visit http://www.epuk.org/