Fylde fracking group pins its hopes on belief

Pat Davies

Pat Davies

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Residents of a community who oppose fracking in their area have taken inspiration from a festive decoration to battle on against big business and the government.

Members of the Preston New Road Action Group say they are starting the New Year with an unwavering promise to fight shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla’s appeal for the monitoring and fracking explorations at the Little Plumpton site near their homes.

While chairman of the group, Pat Davies, was decorating her house for Christmas, she found her ornamental sign with “This House Believes” engraved on it, and it inspired the group to use the phrase to refocus and take their campaign through to the appeal stage and beyond.

Pat said: “We’re not campaigners; we’re only residents, in particular, ones who haven’t protested before.

“We have fought a David and Goliath battle to inform our parish, our borough council, and finally Lancashire County Council. Largely self-funding, we have absolutely nothing to gain unlike many people who are pro this industry.

“They see themselves profiting from fracking at locals’ expense. We are merely guardians of our community.

“Having studied this application in minute detail for two years, it’s laughable when often non-local people looking for profit at this community’s expense try to dismiss us as either ill-informed or a minority: we are neither. We believe people come before profit.”

The group’s media spokesperson, Claire Stephenson, said: “After such a busy year devoting so much time, energy and emotion to this campaign, we felt we need a positive new focus.

“We’ve had a strong strategy from day one. The Conservative government is intent on destroying any chance of meeting its recent climate change obligations. Their methodical destruction of the solar and onshore wind renewable energy industry can only be described as irrational and blinkered, all the while championing yet more dangerous fossil fuel extraction that scientific studies prove beyond a doubt, we need to keep in the ground.

The group said the Government’s decision to have secretary of state, Greg Clark to make the decision on the appeal next month, showed a lack of respect for democracy and local communities.

He announced in November that he would rule on the appeal against Lancashire County Council’s refusal of two shale gas exploration bids at Preston New Road and Roseacre rather than leaving it to an independent inspector because the matter was of national importance.

At the time Cuadrilla, which was unavailable for comment today, said it respected his decision which was a normal part of the democratic process.

Claire Stephenson added: “By using a simple idea and a dedicated hashtag #webelieve on social media, we can draw together support across the UK from communities who will be affected by fracking without their consent.

“We have to remain committed to the belief of a fair, democratic society and that it should be our local elected representatives only who have the power to determine Lancashire’s future.”