Extinction Rebellion protesters block Lancashire fracking site

Environmental activists have blocked the entrance to the fracking site at Preston New Road.

By Tim Gavell
Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 12:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 1:07 pm
Police form a cordon in front of the Extinction Rebellion protest at the Preston New Road fracking site
Police form a cordon in front of the Extinction Rebellion protest at the Preston New Road fracking site

Members of Extinction Rebellion, which staged a protest in London in May where hundreds were arrested and which shut down Deansgate in Manchester last month, parked their bright yellow yacht emblazoned with the words "planet before profit" outside the gates of the drill site near Little Plumpton.

The group said their direct action was being forced upon them by governments not doing enough to cut fossil fuels and tackle the world climate crisis.

The site is currently not being fracked as investigations are ongoing into the recent earth tremors caused by the fracking of the second of the two wells there.

Police form a cordon in front of the Extinction Rebellion protest at the Preston New Road fracking site

Cuadrilla said today that while it had no objection to peaceful protest, the campaigners should not disrupt neighbours or traffic flow on the nearby A583. It added that it believed that gas from fracking would be needed to help the change to a reduced carbon economy.

An Extinction Rebellion spokesman said: “We are here to highlight the conscious, cynical inaction of the government in response to a climate and ecological emergency.

“We will stand with those communities which have tenaciously and peacefully resisted this for years, they have sought to defend against the threat fracking poses to their air and water, their health, their land, including their homes, as demonstrated by the recent tremors.

“There is a yawning chasm between words and deeds. The science is clear: the world must move urgently away from a system of ever-increasing consumption and destruction, totally founded and dependent on fossil fuels.

Protesters along the A583 Preston New Road

“Climate change is a burgeoning catastrophe. We know to prevent this, we must leave more than 80% of existing oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground. Yet this government is determined to find and exploit new reserves, supporting the likes of Cuadrilla in their attempt to open up a new gas field spanning the North of England.

“The world will not be a sacrifice zone. We insist the government tells the truth and acts with the speed that an emergency demands. The UK must move rapidly to carbon neutrality by 2025.

“An immediate ban on new fossil fuel exploration and development, including fracking, would be one of the first steps.

“Criminal inaction is forcing us to rebel again this October in London, across the UK, and, with our sister organisations, around the world."

Climate change campaigners at Preston New Road

A spokesman for local protesters taking part in the action on Tuesday said: "Today’s action is to highlight the climate emergency that we are now facing. We need an urgent government response if we are to have any hope of avoiding climate breakdown. Tomorrow or next week may be too late.

“We must acknowledge and accept that the age of fossil fuels is over. We are blessed with enormous renewable resources and we have the technology to harness them. There is no excuse not to do so.

“We know and accept that there may be serious consequences for our actions today but we are very clear that the consequences of our inaction will be far, far worse and probably irreversible.We owe it to ourselves, our friends, our neighbours and our communities to act now. And most of all we owe it to our children and to future generations.”

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: "This is not impacting on our operations. We have no objection to peaceful, law abiding protest whilst recognising that our neighbours, motorists using the busy road and our staff and contractors should also be able to go about their business without disruption, inconvenience or intimidation.

"We would like to add that we are exploring for shale gas at Preston New Road to establish a domestic energy supply that the UK really needs. The Bowland Shale as a whole could be a very important resource for Lancashire and the UK and, whilst hydraulic fracturing is currently suspended, we would like to continue with our work to prove this.

"To reach net zero by 2050 the Committee on Climate Change is clear that the UK will need about 70 per cent of the natural gas that we are using today, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage for electricity and as a feedstock for the manufacture of hydrogen.

"Natural gas is recognised by the experts to be an important part of the solution. We intend to be a part of that solution in providing lower emission UK shale gas to replace higher emission imported gas whilst also generating local jobs and economic benefit."