Resort group’s frack fight

Bob Dennett, of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, with North Shore resident Michelle Hayward who wants to set up a Frack Free Blackpool group
Bob Dennett, of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, with North Shore resident Michelle Hayward who wants to set up a Frack Free Blackpool group
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Plans to make Blackpool the shale gas capital of Europe have prompted concerned residents to set up a new anti-fracking group in the resort.

Mum-of-two Michelle Hayward, from North Shore, called for support in starting up ‘Frack Free Blackpool’ at a busy public meeting on Wednesday night.

Around 80 people turned up to the meeting at the Comrades Club, on Adelaide Street, Blackpool, including Blackpool Mayor Coun Eddie Collett and other councillors.

Ms Hayward said serious environmental concerns over the impact of fracking forced her to take a stand. She also hit out at David Cameron’s call for Blackpool to become “the centre of Europe for the shale gas industry” at the Tory party conference in Manchester.

She added: “I’ve been involved with the cause, working with Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, for six months. I’m doing this for my boys.”

Campaigners’ fears centre around the dangers of fracking, the process of injecting water into rock deep below the ground to release shale gas, including contamination of the region’s water.

In the USA, claims have been made that fracking has been linked to toxic waste, while the operation at Preese Hall caused two earthquakes.

She added: “I am concerned about the impact heavy traffic and industrialisation would have on tourism in Blackpool.”

Some audience members voiced concerns that Cuadrilla was not present to give their side of the debate.

Ms Hayward said the company had declined an offer to attend the event.

Bob Dennett, a RAFF member who has campaigned against fracking in Fylde for the past two years, also spoke. He said residents’ efforts were having an effect.

He added: “At the moment in Lancashire, Cuadrilla has withdrawn from Anna’s Road (near Westby).”

Paul Whitehead, 36, from South Shore, attended the meeting to show his support.

He said: “The more people that know about this the better.” Stephen Butterworth, 52, of North Shore shared the concerns raised at the meeting.

He said: “I think fracking would be an absolute disaster – there are no positives.”

A Cuadrilla spokesperson said: “We’re committed to working with the community and are keen to take on board the views of local people and organisations as we continue to assess the full potential of Lancashire’s Bowland shale.”