Fracking furore as firm quits scheme after protests

Fracking protestors demonstrate outside Moore Readymix

Campaigners say they are delighted that two companies have ended their association with a controverisal Fylde fracking site.

And they say that two more protesters have been in collisions with the vehicles of contractors following Friday’s incident at Preston New Road.

But angry industry supporters have said the protests have stopped people going about their lawful business and could mean loss of lucrative contracts for local businesses. They have called on the police to act.

The Frack Free Lancashire group said that protesters gathered outside Moore Readymix in St Annes at 7.30am on Tuesday, to prevent vehicles using the premises.

The firm had been supplying AE Yates, the main contractor at Little Plumpton off Preston New Road where Cuadrilla is aiming to construct a drilling pad to create four test wells for gas.

The protesters claimed a vehicle was driven in a reckless manner clipping one person and leaving a music sound system damaged. Police were called and were investigating a ‘minor collision between a protester and a Mitsubishi’ vehicle. They said the injured party received minor injuries but no-one had been charged with any offence.

Protests have also been staged outside the premises of Armstrong Aggregates in Bolton to prevent its vehicles from supplying the drill site.

On Monday that company issued a statement to protesters saying: “We have made the decision at 1pm today to terminate all work at Wood Plumpton (sic) with AE Yates and Cuadrilla.” A spokesman said the decision had been taken for “purely commercial” reasons and Cuadrilla insisted that the contract had already been fulfilled.

Stephen Liptrot, plant manager at the Moore Readymix site, confirmed they had pulled out of the contract saying: “It was not worth upsetting all our other customers. We could not get into our site to produce concrete.”

In a separate incident a protester was said to have been in collision with a vehicle at the Preston New Road site yesterday.

This followed the incident on Friday where a security worker was bowled over by a reversing truck and a second security guard and a protester were pushed along behind the vehicle as it tried to enter the site.

A spokesman from Frack Free Lancashire said: “There have been and will continue to be peaceful protests wherever this unwanted industry imposes itself on a community.

“People are exercising their legal right to protest against fracking when all three levels of our democratically-elected officials have rejected it. In Lancashire, a parish, a borough and a county council all said a loud and clear ‘no’ to the fracking industry.

“The fact that both Armstrong’sand Moore’s Readymix have recently chosen not to continue working with Cuadrilla, is clearly their own business, but we are extremely pleased that they have reassessed their relationship with an industry that has no democratic place nor social licence in our communities.”

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “The intimidation and bullying by hard line activists from outside the area against some of our North West suppliers is disgraceful.

“They are preventing hardworking people from running their businesses and earning their living. While we empathise with suppliers who take the difficult decision to terminate contracts with us due to unrelenting intimidation we and our main contractors will not be brow beaten by a small group of irresponsible bullies.”

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “Despite differing opinions on fracking, it is quite wrong on all counts to intimidate, harass, bully and disrupt small, local firms who are simply getting on with their daily lawful business and keeping their employees in jobs.”

“Should the intimidation continue at this level, I fear the local supply chain will lose out to organisations operating outside the area. The police must at the very least adopt a firmer line against activists.”

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