Protesters stage a 'ceilidh of resistance' to oppose Fylde fracking

Hundreds of campaigners staged a musical protest at the gates of a Fylde fracking site.

The group from all over the country, as well as local people, were at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road drilling site to oppose the extraction of shale gas, which they say will increase climate change and pose a pollution threat locally.

Anti-fracking protesters at the Jig at the Rig event at Preston New Road

Anti-fracking protesters at the Jig at the Rig event at Preston New Road

The action comes as Cuadrilla carries out horizontal drilling in preparation for fracking and as the company prepares to fight a re-opened planning inquiry on April 10 for permission to drill at a second site, Roseacre Wood.

Organised by the activist group Reclaim the Power, the “jig at the rig” aimed to be a “live ceilidh of resistance in the tracks of Lancashire’s drilling trucks.”

Sophia Lysaczenko from Derbyshire said she had come to support local campaigners.

She said: “They have carried out an inspiring campaign here and we want to show that the rest of the UK is also opposed to this industry.

“More and more councils are voting against it. Derby has last week rejected it.” Calum Harvey said: “The campaigners here get massive local support behind the scenes.

“But it is not just a local issue it is a national and international one because of the climate change impact of gas. National government has forced this through so people nationally are here to oppose it.”

Access to the site was blocked throughout the morning, a day after the site was blockaded for 14 hours by a group from Oxford.

Ash Hewitson, an organiser of Friday’s demo from Reclaim the Power, commented:

“Last year hundreds of people from across the UK came together to support Lancashire, disrupt Cuadrilla’s fracking plans and demand publicly-owned renewable energy. We’re returning to celebrate the inspiring community resistance of local people against this reckless industry and their Conservative backers in Westminster.”

“Local councils from all parties are rejecting the industry. Fracking will bring risks to local communities’ health, land and water as well as worsen the devastating impacts of climate change. Lancashire has said a decisive “no” to fracking. We won’t allow it: not here not anywhere.”

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla said: “Last July Reclaim The Power’s campaign caused lengthy road blockages which severely hampered local traffic, diverted significant police resource to keep the highways safe and resulted in nearly 100 activists being arrested, the majority coming from outside the county.

“We respect the right to lawful protest and ask Reclaim The Power to adhere to this and respect the right for local people, including our own employees and contractors, to go about their daily business without any hindrance.”

Extra officers were on duty, with the force reminding motorists the speed limit past the controversial site is just 20 mph.

"This is to ensure the safety of everybody: Campaigners, police, residents, and motorists," a spokesman for Fylde Police said.

A spokesman from pro-shale campaign group Lancashire For Shale said: "It's hard to know just what it is that national activists hope to achieve with stunts like this. As we've seen time and again, direct action does nothing to stop Cuadrilla from going about its lawful work at Preston New Road, it simply causes unnecessary disruption and inconvenience to local people, road users and neighbouring businesses - which is exactly what's happened today, with the police having to establish a contraflow for the safety and protection of the protesters.

"Local people will remember it was this group that was behind weeks of direct action in the summer last year that caused the road to be closed in both directions on several occasions, leading to a large number of arrests and a surge in policing costs.They will rightly be concerned that national protesters are once again descending on the area to cause trouble like this."

But Ellie Groves, from Reclaim the Power, said: “Impacted communities – mostly poor, predominantly in the Global South - are already enduring the effects of climate change from flooding, to drought, to more frequent and severe extreme weather events, leading to food insecurity and forced displacement.

"It is our responsibility to say ‘no’ to all new fossil fuels, as the local community here in Lancashire have done, and take direct action to ensure that ‘no’ is followed through."