Protests planned at anti-fracking inquiry

Barbara Richardson will be giving evidence at the inquiry
Barbara Richardson will be giving evidence at the inquiry
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Today sees the start of a second public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack for shale gas at Roseacre Wood.

The hearing, at Blackpool Football Club, is expected to last for two weeks, coinciding with the start of action by protesters at the existing Preston Road drilling site.

Protesters will be outside the inquiry until noon with speakers from trade unions, residents and anti-fracking groups.

Cuadrilla applied to frack at two sites on the Fylde in June 2014 but both were rejected by Lancashire County Council. These sites became the subject of a Planning Inquiry in 2016.

The UK government overturned the council’s refusal at Preston New Road, and was “minded to approve” fracking at Roseacre if Cuadrilla could overcome concerns related to traffic and safety.

Protesters claim the plans will involve Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) traffic on rural Fylde roads including the A583 Blackpool Road and A585 Fleetwood Road, passing through many villages such as Clifton, Salwick, Inskip, Roseacre, Crossmoor and Elswick.

Barbara Richardson, chairman of the Roseacre Awareness Group, who will be presenting evidence to the Inquiry opposing the revised traffic plans on behalf of residents and seven parish and town councils, said: “We are only a small community and it has taken us thousands of hours of unpaid work and tens of thousands of pounds, but we are determined to fight this to the bitter end.

“We see this is an injustice and infringement of our human rights.”

Since Cuadrilla began work at Preston New Road in January 2017, the site has attracted daily protests, with the bill for policing topping £7m.

Over the next three months anti-fracking campaigners will hold a number of protests at Preston New Road.

Today there will be a march to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote.

Protesters will also leave bras at the site to illustrate claims that fracking can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer for women living near shale gas exploration sites.

Other events are planned until June.