Anti-fracking protest sparks road chaos

Police closed the A583 Preston New Road after three anti-fracker protesters locked themselves together to block deliveries to the shale gas drilling site.

Anti-fracking campaigners have come under fire for a lock-on protest which resulted in the closure of  the A583 near Blackpool.

Pro-fracking groups said the action was irresponsible and claimed an ambulance was delayed.

Anti-fracking protesters at the Preston New Road shale gas drilling site

The event was part of Reclaim the Power’s month of action against fracking centered at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road drill site.

Police chose to close the entire road between Fox Lane Ends and Whitehill Road for around five hours for safety reasons. Three people were arrested after locking themselves together in the road to stop deliveries to the site.

A spokesman from Lancashire for Shale said: “ This led to reports of an ambulance being delayed to transfer a child to hospital. We accept that people have the right to peaceful protest, but such actions are causing distress to local people going about their daily lives in Fylde.

“Sadly, it is unrealistic to ask activists capable of such extreme and callous actions to show basic consideration for the local community, so we call on other more responsible figures in the anti-fracking camp to encourage those responsible to moderate their behaviour.

“Combined with the escalating costs of policing these protests, the impact of professional activists on the lives of local people and Lancashire’s public finances is indefensible.”

But local campaigners said they were left with no alternative but to continue peaceful protest and said that plenty of room was deliberately left on the road to allow traffic to pass.

Fylde resident Nick Danby said: “Any protest action which causes delay or inconvenience is to be regretted but I would ask people to remember that we have explored every other mens of stopping this industry. Lancashire County Council refused planning permission for this development.”

He added that in the protesters’ view fracking would have a negative impact on traffic flow across the county as more wells were drilled and trucks serviced them, as well as the potential to pollute air and water.

Yesterday The Gazette reported that police had been drafted in from other counties to maintain a 24 hour presence at Preston New Road as protests ramped up.

Today shale gas company Cuadrilla said: “The Lancashire public are rightly more than frustrated that the reckless and in many cases illegal behaviour of a small number of national, professional activists is making daily commuter journeys hell and unnecessarily stretching Lancashire’s police force to the limit.

“Cuadrilla is going about its law abiding business and unreservedly condemns the self- serving and selfish actions of these so-called protestors.”

A ‘rolling roadside protest’ is also planned for 9.30am until 11am today, and will involve women dressed in white clothing.

It is being held to ‘demand safety for our peaceful protectors, for a calming of the aggression by authorities, and to recognise our human rights to protest’.

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