We will not be ‘persuaded’ say Lancashire anti-fracking activists

Photo Neil Cross'Protesters outside the Fracking meeting at County Hall in Preston
Photo Neil Cross'Protesters outside the Fracking meeting at County Hall in Preston
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Protesters have reacted angrily to a statement from a Government minister that it will seek to “persuade” Lancashire residents to accept fracking.

Energy and climate change minister Andrea Leadsom told MPs that it was vital the country seizes the opportunity to “at least explore” the UK’s shale gas potential.

Ms Leadsom told MPs during a Westminster Hall debate on the issue that she sought to reassure those concerned that safety was the most important and over-riding concern of shale gas exploration.

She said: “I would never call those with local, very well founded concerns nimbys or luddites,” adding: “My priority will be to give them reassurance and, yes, an element of persuasion.”

Her comments came as the rejection of fracking schemes in Lancashire were seen as a significant blow to the Government’s bid to go “all out” for shale.

Today Ebony Johnson of Frack Free Lancashire said protesters were unimpressed by Ms Leadsom’s statement.

She said: “Frankly, I find it quite insulting.

“Quite how they are going to persuade us they haven’t said – we are well past the point of accepting bribes.

“This is an industry that shouldn’t be forced on anyone.”

Green County Coun Gina Dowding said: “Lancastrians have shown they will not be dictated to by the Government or big business and we will fight hard to protect our county and our future.”

In the Westminster debate, South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy highlighted worries over water safety, infrastructure and compensation.

Environmental campaigners and local opponents of two schemes to drill and frack for shale gas were cheered last week when Lancashire county councillors turned down one scheme at Roseacre Wood over traffic concerns.

A decision on Monday saw councillors rejecting the advice of their own planning officials, by turning down another scheme at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

Gas exploration company Cuadrilla is considering its next move, saying it has “strong grounds” to appeal against the county council decisions.