Campaigners have cried foul after a convoy of fracking equipment was delivered to a Fylde drill site in the early hours wiht the help of Lancashire police.
A convoy of 23 lorries and one of five were driven into the site off Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton, between 4.20am and 4.30am on Monday.
Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla which has drilled two wells deep into underlying rock in a bid to find natural gas, has permission under its traffic management agreement for the site to occasionally bring in equipment at times outside normal working hours.
The site is subject to strict conditions designed to prevent noise, light and other forms of pollution and to control traffic movement in the vicinity.
The company was last week given permission to test frack the second of the two wells by the Government and is set to carry out hydraulic fracturing on them in the next few weeks.
A spokeswoman from gate camp at Preston New Road said: “With people dying around the world as a result of climate change, it is insane that our government pushes ahead with its destructive fracking policy.
"Seeing the police state facilitating a fracking company with 30 heavy goods vehicles during the night, is a feeling of utter betrayal. It is hard to find words.
A spokesman from Fylde Labour Party said: "Fylde Labour Party were extremely concerned to learn that at 4:15am this morning, Monday 24 September, a large convoy of approximately 30 heavy goods vehicles were facilitated entry onto the Preston New Road fracking site by Lancashire Police.
"This massive delivery onto the site at Preston New Road signals that the first horizontal frack is imminent.
"Fylde Labour condemns the actions of Lancashire Police in continuing to facilitate Cuadrilla's operations at Preston New Road, in the face of growing public opposition to the fracking industry.
"Fracking has been forced on our community by a self-serving Conservative government, who continue to peddle untruths that the industry will benefit the Fylde in terms of jobs and reduced gas prices."
Lancashire Constabulary confirmed they policed the convoy and kept protesters, who mount a 24 hour watch on the site, in their roadside shelter.
Chief Insp Keith Ogle, of Lancashire Police said: “Following Cuadrilla’s decision to carry out deliveries in the early hours of this morning, a policing operation was put in place to ensure safety and to minimise disruption to the local community.
“The delivery to the Preston New Road site by Cuadrilla was within its traffic management plan agreed with Lancashire County Council.
“A small number of protesters were subject to containment for their safety and safety of others due to the size of the vehicles involved and nature of the delivery.
“Our aim as always is to ensure is a consistent and coordinated policing response and ensure a balance between the rights of people to peacefully protest, together with the rights of the wider public, including local businesses, to go about their lawful activities.
“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but if it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.”
Figures on the Lancashire police website show the cost of policing the drill site and fracking operation in the county has now reached £8.09m.
A spokesman from Cuadrilla said they were allowed to deliver that early in the morning for key equipment such as the fracking equipment and said they had received no complaints about noise.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council, said: "The planning conditions for the Preston New Road site allow nine deliveries a year to be made outside the usual operating hours in exceptional circumstances and following discussion with the police.
"We are aware of the delivery which took place early on Monday morning and are satisfied that this activity was within the limits allowed by the planning permission."