Anger rises as Fylde coast fracking protests ramp up

Anti-fracking rally at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
Anti-fracking rally at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
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Protesters are set to ramp up the fights against fracking this spring despite a row following a rally at the weekend.

National climate change protest group Reclaim the Power said it was set to target companies supplying goods and services to shale gas explorer Cuadrilla.

Anti-fracking rally at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton

Anti-fracking rally at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton

The group, which organised a fracking camp in 2014 on a field close to the Little Plumpton drill site, said it plans to pressure companies in the fracking supply chain during a fortnight of direct action called Break the Chain from March 27 to April 10.

The news comes after local protesters criticised Lancashire Police for overreacting at Saturday’s event at Preston New Road.

A post on the Fylde Police social media page said around 150 people tried to breach the site, however it was later taken down and the figure replaced with the word ‘some’.

After a rally featuring almost 1,000 people, a small group of protesters got on to the farmer’s field where the drill site is and tried to access the works area.

MP Cat Smith at the anti-fracking rally

MP Cat Smith at the anti-fracking rally

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said they were disappointed with the number of officers deployed by Lancashire Police and the unnecessary closure of the road in what they said was a successful lawful rally.

The spokesman said: “The audience heard many passionate speeches. Friends of the Earth’s CEO, Craig Bennett, talked about the urgent global need to reduce fossil fuel use.

“Labour’s MP, Cat Smith, also spoke to the crowds on democracy, along with a host of other community and national speakers. Musicians, face-painters and dancers entertained the multi-generational crowd.”

But pro-fracking group Lancashire For Shale said the police should act to prevent further action.

A spokesman said: “We are appalled at what has happened at the Preston New Road site in Fylde, when dozens of mainly national professional protesters have chosen to trespass on a local farmer’s land, causing extensive criminal damage and laying siege to the family home.

“Lancashire For Shale also condemns the cost to Lancashire tax payers of having to police disruptive, unlawful activities.

“The time has come to say no to these sinister tactics. Our local communities and our vitally important farming and tourism economy stand to lose out if this sort of disgraceful behaviour is allowed to continue on the Fylde Coast.”

Activist group Reclaim the Power, however, has said it will escalate action in the coming weeks with hundreds of people trained to take action ahead of plans for a more sustained campaign of resistance to the industry on the ground this summer, should companies move to begin fracking. Ash Hewitson from Reclaim the Power said: “For six years, the people of Lancashire have successfully fought off fracking.

“Along with other communities across the UK, they have held rallies, signed petitions, talked to their MPs and councillors, and lodged opposition through local planning processes.

“But now the industry is raising the stakes and pressing ahead with its plans, and the Westminster government is finding any way it can to force fracking on communities, despite overwhelming opposition.

“So we need new strategies to resist.

“Fracking companies don’t exist in isolation; and we can stop the industry if we cut it off from the systems it needs to survive.

“By taking out the links in the chain we can break the whole industry into pieces.”