Councillors join residents in lock-on anti-fracking protest

13 protesters locked-on at the Preston New Road fracking drill site
13 protesters locked-on at the Preston New Road fracking drill site
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Police have put a contra-flow traffic system in place on the A583 near the Preston New Road fracking site.

It came after 13 Lancashire residents, including three councillors, took direct lock-on action in an ongoing bid to prevent shale gas extraction by exploration company Cuadrilla at the site near Little Plumpton.

The protesters arrived at the site at around 3am where the company's main drilling rig is expected any day now, and blockaded the entrance, locking themselves to heavy objects and preventing any vehicles from entering the site.

Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding, who is one of the councillors taking part in this direct action, said: “It’s abundantly clear that when it comes to fracking, local councils have been rendered weak and helpless.

"I feel I need to be here with the community to say that we won’t roll over and accept this. We are putting our bodies on the line because our voices haven’t been heard.”

Fylde Borough Councillor for Warton and Westby, Julie Brickles, said: “I’m sometimes called the anti-fracking councillor. I strongly disagree with this: I’m the pro-community councillor and Westby is my community. Residents are rightly scared and we have now run out of options.”

Kirkham Town Councillor, Miranda Cox said: “When your community and family is threatened, you are often left with little choice but to take direct action.

"As a councillor and member of this community, I have been left with no more alternatives. I feel our way of life locally is under attack by an industry that, backed by a distant central government, is seeking to turn Fylde and Lancashire into the largest gas field in Europe. I cannot stand by and allow this mass industrialisation to happen.”

The protesters said they were angry that the Government has allowed fracking to go ahead despite the parish council, borough council and county council's opposition. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid ruled in favour of Cuadrilla's bid to drill and frack at Preston New Road following a six week public planning inquiry.

Those who support fracking say it will bring jobs, boost the economy through tax revenues and provide a home-grown secure source of gas for industry and to heat homes.

Anti-fracking protesters say that fracking is an expensive and disruptive method of extracting gas from deep underground, threatens the local environment with potential pollution, earth tremors and industrialisation of the countryside.

The campaign group Reclaim the Power has said it will be staging a month of activity in the area called Rolling Resistance in Lancashire to oppose fracking.