Fracking war of words escalates

Anti-fracking protesters block the road
Anti-fracking protesters block the road

The war of words over fracking was continuing today after calls for action from different sides of the debate.

A petition urging county hall to force Cuadrilla to remove a drilling rig allegedly delivered in breach of planning conditions is approaching 5,000 signatures.

Babs Murphy

Babs Murphy

Meanwhile, The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has urged fed-up businesses to complain to the county police commissioner about protesters blocking the A583 near the Cuadrilla site.

An investigation has been launched after equipment was last week delivered to the Preston New Road site in the early hours.

The fracking firm said the decision was made in consultation with the police following “aggressive protest activity”.

Fylde Coast resident Mark Mills has launched the petition due to concerns the alleged breach is “the thin end of the wedge”, urging the local authority to take action.

We’re currently investigating the vehicle movements which we understand took place overnight and are in breach of planning permission

He said: “It’s very worrying because if they’re prepared to do it (breach conditions) for this, what else could happen?

“Especially with the conditions relating to safety. It’s disrespectful to the planning process and to the council.”

The petition, launched last week, has attracted more than thousands of supporters, the vast majority of whom have Fylde Coast and Preston postcodes, Mr Mills added.

The delivery of the rig took place as protest activity around the site has intensified in recent weeks with the road closed on several occasions.

Mr Mills, who lives on Preston New Road, is calling for LCC to order the removal of the equipment from the delivery in question.

Cuadrilla said the decision to make the delivery outside of working hours was made after consultation with police.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We’re currently investigating the vehicle movements which we understand took place overnight and are in breach of planning permission.

“We are writing to the operator requiring them to put measures in place to prevent a recurrence, as well as considering what further action to take.”

Chamberof Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said: “The escalation of these disruptive tactics means that more robust action is needed now to keep the public highway open.”

She urged businesses affected to write to police commissioner Clive Grunshaw voicing concerns.