New row over Fylde fracking road block

A truck delivering portable cabins to the fracking site at Preston New Road
A truck delivering portable cabins to the fracking site at Preston New Road
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Anti-fracking campaigners have vowed to keep a close eye on a gas drill site on the Fylde saying they will report any breaches of planning conditions.

Their statement came after trucks servicing the gas exploration site of Cuadrilla’s site blocked the busy A583 during deliveries.

Members of the Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG), which represents local residents, say they will continue their roadside protest along with slow walking in front of delivery wagons agreed with police.

Last week some anti-fracking protesters, believed to have been from outside the area, stopped traffic on the eastbound lane of Preston New Road for around four hours, drawing criticism from pro-fracking groups.

But today a PNRAG spokesman said: “Cuadrilla’s traffic management plan dangerously closed the A583 on two separate occasions, to facilitate installation of several site cabins.

“Emergency vehicles would not have been able to pass due to the entire carriageway being blocked by the HGVs delivering the cabins, thus endangering lives.

“Despite the Conservative government’s continual proclamations of gold standard and robust regulations, several breaches of health and safety and planning conditions have been recorded and are being investigated by different agencies, including one of assault by security guards on site.”

The group added Cuadrilla did not inform residents of their works until the day after heavy vehicles had arrived on Preston New Road and began construction and hedge removal.

Local resident, Ian Roberts, who was one of a group of residents carrying out a litter pick near the protest site, said: “Resistance has grown massively since we started Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) six years ago. The strategy we have adopted so far has got longevity in it. We are looking at the long-term aspect. While we are out on the roads gathering support, there are still legal challenges ongoing.”

However, Cuadrilla said the road closures were due to protester at junction 4 of the M55 leading to the truck being forced to leave at junction 3.

A spokesperson said: “Due to protester activity the emergency procedure of our traffic management plan was invoked which involved closing the Preston New Road twice for a few minutes on Thursday, January 12. This decision was taken in consultation with the police.

“We again ask that for the safety of everyone and the avoidance of further road closures that protestors behave responsibly.”