Security staff have been brought in to guard Fylde coast fields which could become fracking sites.
Energy company Cuadrilla has installed security on land off Preston New Road at Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood, both of which have been touted for exploratory shale gas drilling.
The move has today been branded “laughable” by campaigners opposed to the controversial process.
Protesters have previously set up camps at similar sites across the country, such as Barton Moss, near Manchester, and Balcombe, in Sussex, to prevent work from taking place.
However, Bob Dennett, from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF), says there are no such plans for the Fylde sites. He said: “It’s laughable they’ve done it and I think it also shows that we’ve got them on the run.
“They’re worried about us and they’re worried about the operation they’ve got.
“They’re taking desperate measures to try and stop us from going there. We weren’t going to take that field (at Little Plumpton).”
Security personnel have been on the sites since the beginning of the month, with tents and portable toilets also in place.
Signs on display at gates around the field at Preston New Road, which is currently used for grazing cattle, advise that it is a criminal offence to enter the field by violence or threat of violence, with the possibility of a prison sentence or £5,000 fine for those who do.
The sign also states at least one person “opposed to entry” is on the site at all times.
Cuadrilla has submitted applications to Lancashire County Council for permission to drill up to four test wells at the sites.
If successful, full scale fracking could go ahead.
A Cuadrilla spokesman confirmed: “Security personnel are on site at our proposed exploration sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.”
However, the company could not say how long the staff would be there for.