Fylde coast’s not for shale, say protesters

Protester Ben Daly from Friends of the Earth with (below) other cyclists at Ashton Gardens, St Annes, in the ride against fracking.
Protester Ben Daly from Friends of the Earth with (below) other cyclists at Ashton Gardens, St Annes, in the ride against fracking.
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DOZENS of anti-shale gas protesters saddled up for a bike ride to spread their message about “putting the brakes on fracking”.

Members of the Friends of the Earth gathered at Blackpool’s North Pier before riding to St Annes where they were met with Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) waving banners to highlight the risks of shale gas drilling.

Protest cycle ride starting at the Ashton Gardens, St Annes, organised by  Friends of the Earth and Residents Action on Fylde Fracking.

Protest cycle ride starting at the Ashton Gardens, St Annes, organised by Friends of the Earth and Residents Action on Fylde Fracking.

The bike ride comes after Cuadrilla Resources submitted planning applications to extend their fracking operations to extract shale gas at two drilling sites at Preese Hall, Weeton, and Grange Road, Singleton.

Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “Communities are sending a clear message that we don’t want fracking in the county. Residents in the Fylde already know of the risks of earth tremors, and it’s also been linked to water pollution and climate change.

“Hundreds of wells across Lancashire would have a devastating impact on the countryside and could wreck our vital farming and tourism economies.

“We should be developing the huge potential of clean energy from the sun, wind and waves, not more dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.”

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Seventeen cyclists made the journey from Blackpool to St Annes and then on to Preston, where they met other bikers who had set off from Southport.

The bike protest was timed to coincide with the last weekend of a Government consultation into fracking and safety risks.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change consultation, which ends on May 25, comes on the back of a report which found fracking caused earthquakes near Blackpool last year.

The campaign groups are calling on Lancashire County Council to refuse further planning permission for Cuadrilla exploration sites, and for the Government to carry out a full scientific assessment of the risks.

Tina Rothery, from RAFF, said: “We need to raise awareness, so many people still don’t know what’s going on.

“Everything is vague, we don’t have 100 per cent assurances.

“If they can guarantee 100 per cent safety and we can get cheap fuel then great. But first we require 100 per cent assurance. Who are we willing to sacrifice as our first victim?”

Cuadrilla say they “take every step to ensure a very high standard of safety, laying down a watertight membrane beneath our sites and encasing wells in three layers of steel casings and cement which extend well below the depth of the aquifer”.

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