Anger after anti-fracking banners are removed near Fylde drill site

Fence art at the Preston New Road fracking site has been removed
Fence art at the Preston New Road fracking site has been removed
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Campaigners reacted angrily after banners and art-work were removed from near the Fylde fracking site.

Representatives said the action, together with the temporary injunction won by drilling firm Cuadrilla to ban blocking of the site, is leaving them with no means of peaceful protest.

But councils said the art was distracting to drivers on the busy A583, and that many had complained the area was untidy.

They removed the items along with an old caravan that had been parked at the nearby Westby Road Junction with the help of [police. Anti-fracking campaigners had also carried out a tidy up of the area.

A Frack Free Lancashire spokesman said: “By removing our art works and banners, Lancashire County Council has effectively withdrawn our last means of peaceful protest.

“The reasons they gave are, quite frankly, an insult to our intelligence.

"If they believe that these works are a distraction to motorists travelling at 20 mph, how will drivers cope when flaring begins and they witness flames and fumes a few metres from the carriageway?

"The recent injunction prevents us applying our bodies to protest and with our creative outlet through art now taken away, we’re being silenced.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “We have carried out a joint exercise with Fylde Borough Council, supported by Lancashire Police, to remove unauthorised signs and other material over a significant length of Preston New Road.

“We’re grateful to those protesters who helped to clean up this area by filling bags to be taken away. We have a responsibility to maintain highway safety, and were concerned that this material presented a distraction to motorists, as well as obscuring the lines of sight.”

A spokesman for Fylde Council said: "Fylde council has a responsibility to keep all highways clean from litter and debris, over the last few weeks the council has received numerous complaints about littering on Preston New Road around the shale gas exploration site, which on a major road is not only a cleanliness issue but also a safety matter.

"The clean-up in the area this week is necessary, and was actually started last week by some of the protesters, however the volume of litter and debris concerned required the council resources to get the task completed quickly.

"The litter and debris was having a detrimental visual impact on the area and whilst the council respects the right to protest peacefully the residents of Fylde take pride in the cleanliness of the borough and expect the council to fulfil its statutory responsibility to clean the streets.

"We would like to thank the residents and protesters on Preston New Road for their valued support and will continue to work with all parties to maintain a high level of cleanliness throughout the borough and safety on the highway."