Police boss talks of the difficulties over Fylde fracking

Police and anti-fracking protesters at Kirkham Police Station
Police and anti-fracking protesters at Kirkham Police Station
13
Have your say

The man in charge of the policing of the controversial Fylde fracking site has  spoken about the difficult job the officers on the front line have.

Superintendent Richard Robertshaw was talking after a protest at Kirkham police station by anti-fracking campaigners.

Police and anti-fracking protesters at Kirkham Police Station

Police and anti-fracking protesters at Kirkham Police Station

The protesters say the police have too many officers at Cuadrilla’s shale gas drilling site off Preston New Road at Little Plumpton, that it is costing too much and that policing has been heavy handed and rough.

It was intended to be a silent vigil to represent what they see as campaigners being gagged by the policing, but at times it became confrontational as a handful of protesters became angry.

Supt Robertshaw said that highlighted the difficulties Lancashire Police faced.

He said: “What it has shown is the very difficult job the officers on the front line of policing at Preston New Road have to deal with.

“Our intention and desire is to very much facilitate peaceful protest. We want people to be able to exercise their democratic right. However, that also needs to be balanced against the right of Cuadrilla to develop the site.”

He said the majority of protesters were peaceful and he praised the professionalism of police officers in the face of others who were more provocative.

Earlier Supt Robertshaw had met local councillors to discuss the issue.

Fylde Councillor for Newton and Treales, Heather Speak, said: “We were updated on the police operation and had the chance to ask questions such as why they need so many officers on duty at Preston New Road and the cost.

“They have a difficult job to do, people must be kept safe, but also people have the right to protest.”

Meanwhile, A Fylde resident hoping to prevent the re-opening of a planning inquiry into a bid to frack at Roseacre Wood has had his legal challenge turned down a second time by a judge.

Jules Burton of Roseacre had argued that Communities Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to give Cuadrilla another chance to show they could drill there without causing safety issues on the rural roads was decision was unfair, irrational, and an abuse of power.

But Justice Kerr in Manchester ruled his case was not arguable and refused a High Court appeal.

Mr Burton said: "It is infuriating. The Government has structured the law in such a way that ministers can simply do what they want whether it is fair or not. It seems, according to the Government, Cuadrilla must be allowed to have their way despite what anyone else thinks.

"This was not a great day for democracy. We may yet still have an appeal but we will have to go away and think about that carefully. This decision will have no bearing on our opposition to Cuadrilla's plans for Roseacre Wood and the community will fight the application at the re-opened planning inquiry which has been set to start next April.

"What it means is a huge expense for a small community in hiring experts and gathering evidence despite us winning in the original planning inquiry. It really is sleazy."

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “We are pleased that the Secretary of State’s “minded to grant” decision, regarding our planning appeal for our proposed shale gas exploration at

Roseacre Wood, has been upheld.

"Cuadrilla looks forward to demonstrating that it will meet the necessary highway conditions which are to be considered at a public inquiry in April 2018.”

See also: Who pays the bill for fracking?