Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

Day 25 at Preston New Road

07:02:17

A successful early morning Protector action in St Anne’s at Moores Cement depot meant work was tediously slow on the site, with only one delivery made. It also meant another contractor pulled out!

Before 9am an email was sent from Moores in St Annes to Cuadrilla. Below is an extract:
“As you are aware the potestors have now moved to block our St Anne’s Depot, and we have been unable to move raw material in and concrete out to any of our customers this morning. I understand that this blockade will continue whilst we are supplying your contract at Preston New Road. In view of the drastic affect this is now having on the rest of my customers, we have no alternative but to cease supplies to the above site”.
Wonderful news of course but once again the day was soured by another road rage incident and a protector was knocked down. Thankfully, he wasn’t badly injured. You can read an accunt of today’s actions compiled by Miranda Cox here.

Day 24 at Preston New Road

06:02:17

A wonderful day! After a single delivery (slow-walked for nearly an hour) – there were NO more gravel trucks coming our way! We heard that Armstrongs had pulled out of supplying Cuadrilla. The message read, “We have made the decision at 1pm today to terminate all work at Little Plumpton with AE Yates and Cuadrilla.” David Armstrong.

The first domino has tumbled. The investors will be getting jumpy at this news. Tina Rothery’s account of the day is available here.

Day 23 at Preston New Road

03:02:17

A wonderful day thanks to protectors in Bolton who had an enormous impact on AE Yates and Armstrongs both suppliers and enablers of Cuadrilla. A sour note ended the day though as  a Protector and a Security Guard got run down by site staff. Tina Rothery’s account is available here.

Day 22 at Preston New Road

02:02:17

A day in which we learned that deliveries to the site can (now there is an entrance-way) arrive between 7:30-18:30 – the temporary traffic light hours of 9:30-15:00 are still in place for roadworks (currently a traffic-island being constructed and work at curbs and footpaths). It’s going to be difficult to maintain truck count; although today we slow-walked just 5 trucks and the road sweeper – there were certainly other deliveries. Read Tina Rothery’s account of the day here.

Day 21 at Preston New Road

01/02/17

A quietish day – four trucks were slow walked and we learned that because of our actions, Cuadrilla is about a fortnight behind schedule. Read Tina Rothery’s take on the day here.

 

Day 20 at Preston New Road

31:01:17

A day when we woke up to the news that help had arrived from Yorkshire and that four brave souls had locked themselves onto the entrance to the site. A day when the trucks arrived before 7.00 am and breached Cuadrilla’s traffic management plan yet again. A day of four arrests and a large contingency of police. here’s Tina Rothery’s take on it.

Day 20 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people witnessed NO truck arrivals at all due to an all-day feat of endurance by 4 visiting Protectors who locked together at the site entrance around 7:30am and were not removed till after 4pm. A heck of a demand on them physically that did what they intended, prevented all deliveries – we were astounded then to see 5 Armstrongs trucks parked to leave (unable to do so for some time due to lock-on). According to residents, these arrived at 6:50am, more on that later. Due to the action the area was by early afternoon, under a ‘Section 14’ order from the police which seemed essentially to limit the number of people on the lock-on side of the street; the atmosphere was fuelled at points to boiling with intense policing, lots of shouting and new scenes constantly unfolding amidst a kaleidoscopic array of Protectors, of all persuasions in all sorts of positions.


 

So there is no ‘usual’ in the world of activism/campaigning, I have never dealt with more varied challenges in any other role or place in my life; not all good or all bad, just a fact of this. Surprises are frequent, new situations inevitable and thinking on your feet, the best you can hope for. That we all think very differently and have different feet – adds to the sense of chaos too that comes with all this. Of course there are differences of perspective as well and to know more of today, you can watch hosts of videos, read tons of posts and view thousands of images but to get a true view – the only way really is to live it as you. My *perspective here on the blog is mine alone….
*Other perspectives are available 😉

The Protectors who locked on this morning, stopped the fracking industry from progressing another day and for that there is huge gratitude from all who want this industry halted. For years, people have locked-on, slow-walked and occupied in order to achieve delays like today and the cumulative effect is that this industry comes with an ugly reputation for bringing trouble, is starved of income, weighed down with costs and… looks less attractive to investors. We’ve been amazing as a movement at holding this back.

Our government though has muscled further in now and overthrown our democracy in its eagerness; it‘s determined to get fracking underway and PNR is the first site with planning approval (exclusively by Westminster) for a production site (as opposed to other test sites) that is underway. Things have changed and we as activists/campaigners/Protectors, know that the clock is ticking – delaying is no longer enough and nor are we. There are a lot of licenses in the UK and combined with government might, this year will stretch us if we don’t find additional ways and more people, willing and able to get involved. Direct actions to delay, now need to morph into actions that stop this industry completely – and to do that, we need to make these actions accessible to a lot more people in every community so that if the threat comes, we don’t have to ‘call the Protectors’ – because there won’t be enough right now to go round.

Since the first few days of being at PNR and seeing how many residents took the step into this world of activism, I have felt so honoured to stand beside them and concerned too because I know how much this means their lives will dramatically change. Nothing is the same once you know a truth like this because at no point, no matter how hard the task we face, can you give up. go home and forget about it. This is not a fad, a lifestyle choice or a temporary thing – this is a threat to our lives and the lives of our children. We’re stuck. We’re all stuck with the same stuff of obligation, responsibility and honour. Lives in turmoil, spare time no longer ‘spare’ but instead set aside for action to stop fracking. Ridiculous hours online learning, sharing, getting to know the shape of the threat and ourselves as the thing that stands as the only thing to stop it.

Take the lady this morning who witnessed the early deliveries. She’s discovered her deep rage; a rage that will force her into further activism because she knows, she’s being lied to, she has no say in her democracy and that the health and wellbeing of her family are worth less to this government, than shareholder profit for Cuadrilla. She alerted:

“Well. I have my phone call to my husband asking him to tweet on my account about the lorries and that was 06.58. I then saw a truck from Maple Farm and told them to let the people there know that the lorries we there. There was nobody there. They got 3 of the 5 straight onto the field and two others waited and the traffic was stopped both ways. How could the 3 have driven straight in?? Liars. I’m more than happy to give my evidence. But Armstrongs will have journey and time logs….required by law (and the VAT Man). They had to swing wide to form the end of the queue into the field as they were right on top of the entrance before they stopped”.

A country of angry, enabled residents… now that’s a picture of power in our communities lol. Not all our residents are able to lock-on though some are amazingly good by virtue of age and ability to slow-walk. Not all our residents are able to risk arrest but they are fabulous at winning the hearts and minds of others who are new and gently ease them into the sheer drop of activism. We are many but those who can do what was done today – are few. There are other ways we need to create so we can grow and succeed.

Some wear their strength of conviction and determination on the outside… for others, though less visible… it is there smoldering just as deep. I did a check of those at the roadside who gather most days and are here every ‘spare’ moment… I asked what they would do if the drill came and was going to start? “I’ll be under it” was the reply from every person there. Just because there are smiles, cake, music and friendliness – doesn’t mean there isn’t intent… just that between now and lying down under the drill, we are pulling in our community to enhance our movement with their bodies and more importantly, their valued input because we need all we can get to draw a line in the sand and stop an entire industry.

There are too many sad and angry moments at the roadside of PNR – but they aren’t strong and so easily fall away with the warm hug of a new arrival, Dawn and her kids passing in the car doing “Roar like a Dinosaur!!” shouts daily, fresh cookies through car windows, the shout of ‘Good Job!’ when I thought he’d said ‘getta job’, the giggle of a gaggle of us as a police driving instructor started a manoeuvre on this single lane, body-filled, police-packed zone – we heard a nearby policeman say “Guess he didn’t get the memo”… and the power of the genuine laughter and warmth that we are bathed in between those (feeble) sad and angry moments. See you tomorrow?

*Highlight humour of the day when a lovely Protector who came equipped with a shovel, was lifting the dirt from the pavement. I asked her what she was doing as she said “Excavating.” I asked if she had found anything and she replied: “Yes. A late 20th century pavement”

*Image thanks to Dave Ellison

Day 19 at Preston New Road

30:01:17

A slow day for Cuadrilla who added more traffic management plan breaches to their ever growing list. Thanks to Tina Rothery for her detailed account of the action and describing the struggle to accommodate all the various protectors who all share the same goal, just different ways of getting to that goal.

Day 19 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were gifted a slow one complete with spontaneous actions and delays by Protectors from early, till beyond finish; when a sneaky extra truck tried to glide in. Thankfully there are always some who stay longer to put away signs, collect litter and watch for the sneaky extra breaches Cuadrilla rely on to counter delays.
So it was a day of many bits rather than a more easily described flow… blogging this morphing beast of a thing offers easy and hard ones to wrap in words; today is one of the hard ones. Social posts over the weekend had indicated that the day would start with early actions by some who were coming to join us. There was a call too for ‘Legal Observers’ that made the day sound more ominous than it turned out. However it happened though, the schedule of arrivals was low (perhaps in response to online activity suggesting trouble for them?) and for each of the mere 5 trucks that came, they experienced delays ahead of entering the work lane, as well as the slow-walks within it. Spontaneous other tactics by Protectors included delaying the exit of the first truck of the day that had shot in before time, holding back the fence from being pulled out and rather elegant dancing that delayed a staff vehicle.
We had set off earlier than usual and were nearly there when a truck whizzed past (around 8:40) and shot into the site – before the Traffic Management was in place and against the plan. Those who stayed at the end noted the late truck too that was not scheduled or within time. These continued breaches may sound small individually but amount to daily abuses of planning that make clear, Cuadrilla will not abide by rules, will be impossible for regulators (with limited resources and powers) to stay on top of …and are being given a free rein by Westminster. A few of the Councillors who fought hard for the rejection of planning that Westminster overthrew, are with us most days and are able to take what is witnessed back and contribute to the legal challenges – all legal challenges benefit from new evidence and Cuadrilla are providing a smorgasbord of justification for Lancashire’s rejection of them.
A number of Protectors who want to support the daily actions have come and are staying nearby; adding to the daily actions and unfolding picture. What a picture it is becoming, a patchwork or a jigsaw maybe… where the bits come from many boxes and are still trying to find a way of being side by side and making something of worth. It’s not easy.
None of this is easy. It is actually really bloody psychologically hard. People from different lives and influences, sharing a goal but struggling with the integration that is demanded by where we are and what we are seeking to achieve. Another analogy… it’s like we’re all heading to the same place, on the same road… but some of us are swimming and others skating lol! I hope one day we dance ..on the space Cuadrilla came to conquer but failed.
We absolutely share our anger and outrage though. This is visceral – it’s in the air, it’s in our tones of voice, it’s in our bellies burning – in some this anger is loud, shouting and reacting and within others, it is festering, fermenting and formulating to a set point – we differ in this most. The anger though is an ugly place to be this often and the moments of warmth, humour and humanity couldn’t be more precious.
Been a long up and down one so I’ll stop here. Just to say though that due to concerns we were without music today but will be sure we aren’t tomorrow – it is blessed solace to be uplifted from the angry by beautiful sounds. See you tomorrow?
*Personal highlight of the day… fellow Protector of ordinarily calm exterior, finally releasing the anger with “No more Mrs. Nice Xxxxx” after a particularly nasty encounter with a red-faced angry man from the skip hire company. She will know the moment and understand how it brought the humour that followed x

Day 18 at Preston New Road

27:01:17

More traffic breaches, more ambulances held up by Cuadrilla, a couple of lock-ons, two arrests, visitors from Southport and Yorkshire, a change of policing and a subsequent change of atmosphere – and much, much more – from Tina Rothery.

Day 18 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were gifted what is maybe best described as an ‘allsorts’ sort of day where roadside Protectors at PNR were joined in solidarity by visiting Protectors from Southport and Yorkshire; creating an array of colour and fabulous company. Some who visited joined the slow-walks or roadside demonstration that happen daily here from 9:30-3 (this is the 18th day of work on the site) and others chose their own actions; with one under a truck at the start of the day and two who locked onto the fencing at the end of the day and were I hear arrested; I had left by that point.

So the tally for slow-walks was again 8 trucks today but no road sweeper to walk at the end due to the lock-ons. Primarily tarmac was arriving to start layering this heavy-duty site road to prepare it for the intense weight and volume of vehicles that are scheduled to come. Within a few weeks, up to 50 aggregate vehicles are due daily – at this stage, residents/Protectors will not be able to slow-walk in the space we are in, without putting lives at risk (due to busy road but primarily the ambulance route that is vital) but other disruptive ways have been discussed amongst those at the roadside and verbally passed to visitors. PUPs (Pop Up Protests) are also planned by Protectors able to get to the set-off points at quarries, in order to reduce the number of arrivals at PNR. And then there’s all those unknown-unkonwns!

The Emergency Plan came back into force today when the Protector went under the truck in the morning; this meant that other trucks were now permitted to enter from other directions not on the Traffic Management Plan, including arriving through the top fence. At one point the fencing was parted at its centre though to release a truck and it’s unclear if this is permitted in any circumstances and certainly seemed a dangerous manoeuvre. The County Council Officer was on duty much of the time so I’d be surprised if he wasn’t aware… whether it bothers him enough to add to all the other Cuadrilla breaches, I sadly doubt.

Fortunately the Residents’ Groups here ensure evidence of breaches is provided to the Council and is logged. Another issue with an ambulance came in the afternoon when it ran the red light heading up PNR – to encounter 5 vehicles coming head on and with no space to move across… not helped by one of the drivers failing to even notice any of this was happening. Mentioning again that this is a ‘Blue Light’ road for ambulances – in other words, the patient is close to death and this is the priority route between our two major hospitals at Preston and Blackpool. Cuadrilla are dangerous in all ways to our health and wellbeing :(

The entire area was very different today, partly due to the visitors but also because the policing changed in response to the actions and the atmosphere was charged. Stopping an industry as powerful as this was never going to be easy. Here in the UK though, Protectors across the country have done just this and are continuing to do it – there are no fracking production sites in operation. Slow-walking trucks, lock-ons, planning objections, legal challenges and more have been our tools and although sites still got built, delay has cost time, money and investor confidence. Cuadrilla threatened they’d be in full production by 2013, then 2014, then 2015 etc and now by next year… we haven’t gone away, we have grown more numerous and despite what we see, we actually WON and their planning was rejected – the deficit of democracy is all that got them back here.

No idea exactly how we end up stopping this – just that we don’t stop until we do. My view is that what we’ve done over the years has been successful but that now- it’s not going to be enough – there needs to be other ways and the diversity of them I think will be key. At PNR we are joined daily by many residents who have come to be active for the first time and are finding their own ways to contribute to this movement – the new voices bring new ways and fresh ideas as well as reinforcement and the value of this is immeasurable. … new is good and may be a vital ingredient to the final killer recipe for success.

Thanks so much to Frack Free Scarborough and Frack Free Southport for your energy, passion and solidarity today :)

It’s finally the end of a long week at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest that has brought ups, downs and a multitude of other directional emotions… next week beckons after blissful duvet time. See you Monday?

*Image highlight of the day: a simple remembering the beauty of our green fields …now being chewed up and spat back as industrial vomit.


*Thank you Ros for the image x

 

 

Day 17 at Preston New Road

26:01:17

Tina Rothery describes how after the lows of yesterday, today witnessed new face, inspiring signs and good spirits – all with a dash of nudity!

Day 17 in the Cuadrilla house… and the good people adapted to changes, briefly (about 30 seconds) lost control of the situation, got it back, laughed, witnessed semi-nudity (these last two things may be related lol!), sustained ourselves on a new coldest-day where the winds brought the chill into minus figures and almost played football – which with hindsight, was never going to be a realistic thing.
So on arrival we could see the traffic cones marking off the lane but no fence in place yet: as on a few days now, a resident had stopped the fence from coming out due to issues with breaches of planning and as we started to gather at the roadside, we were informed by site staff that the slow-walks couldn’t happen because of the situation with the fence.Hmmm …we paused for a moment to consider options, remembered who was right in all this and were about to go get in front of a truck anyway – when we noticed a lovely Protector with a Frack Free Lancashire sign had already brought the first truck to a halt within the work-lane.

We joined him and were asked by police if we could move forward as a second truck had nudged in but was sticking out into traffic… we edged forward for safety sake and said we would do our slow-walks. “Still the 15 minutes?” we were asked; we considered this and at that moment a bloody third truck rocked in behind the newly positioned second one and they wanted us to go forward to accommodate. NO then to any 15 minutes. They should have waved this third one on due to safety so we were now going to let it nudge in but would take as long as possible reaching the site entrance. Popped the music on at this point so we could slow-walk in style and in song.
Two hours later the trucks went in (well actually one of them broke down and had to lay lifeless and unemptied at the side) and the fence was brought out… about a half hour later came a truck, we walked to the fence, they opened and our rhythm of slow-walks continued as it has on previous days. Total trucks slow-walked in on the day was sort of 8… with 1 broken-down and 1 ‘wrong address’ lol! Ooo and of course… the road-sweeper.
After yesterday’s odd atmosphere and deficit of joy, it was clear from the growing numbers of smiling faces, new signs and enthusiasm – that NOTHING is going to be allowed to bring us down, slow us up or diminish what we truly are.I felt such gratitude for the spirit of fellow Protectors today and the ones who I KNOW showed up because of concern about my post yesterday – thank you for the warm glow of you that made yesterday fade into the shadows
A surprising sight for this time of year greeted me during the long slow-walk at the start, when a Garstang cyclist who had joined us, started removing layer after layer of clothing! When he’d got down to cycle-shorts only, he put on a lovely apron and announced he was going to be a Nana… I pointed out that Nanas ordinarily wear thermals and are rarely topless… this did not hinder his enthusiasm and he remained near-naked for a good half hour or so despite the temperature. Certainly one for the memory box that is forever now seared into my eyes.Lots of lovely roadside conversations happened and much new information was shared as well as gathered as a friendly drone operator captured images of the site for us. Later in the day a lawyer for the police arrived, we think this is because there is talk of what happens when the fence goes, along with the temporary traffic lights and single lane traffic – around 7-10 days from now. Clearly at that point, we won’t be slow-walking in the works-lane anymore as it won’t exist. So new ways and ideas are being discussed – all input welcome.

:)Residents have looked at plans and noted that despite the new, private site-road that is emerging, there is still the first 6ft or so of it that counts as public footpath and alongside that, the cycle lane. The opportunity for walkers, cyclists and residents to stroll or ride these areas means it would be a struggle to turn trucks into the site. Trucks stopping to wait, will be nearly impossible on this busy road and the challenges highlighted by residents at the Planning and Appeal stages of this, will be obvious and confirm why our Council REJECTED the planning application. This disruption combined with ‘PUPs’ (Pop Up Protests) at supplier points of origin of trucks… will lead to more delays, more frustration for AE Yates and Cuadrilla, more distress from investors and more breaches that will be witnessed and documented for the pending legal challenges.

Day done now and so looking forward to tomorrow when we have visitors from the newly formed Frack Free Southport as well as friends from Frack Free Scarborough… can’t tell you how much these visits mean to Protectors at the roadside. The fact that others travel to be here in solidarity warms and refreshes us – there is so little we can do to make it welcoming though really; it is a cold road, no seating, no kettle… but there is love, joy, laughter, music, honks of support and snacks/sweets gifted through car windows as they pass. See you tomorrow?

*Playlist highlight of the day… Blue Moonhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vr0amOKCHoduring the long slow-walk where we had more space and each Protector in the front of the trucks or on the footpath, was swaying and smiling – nearly asked a fellow Protector to dance, got so caught in the moment lol! Another day down the rabbit-hole of ‘Whatever next?’

Day 16 at Preston New Road

25:01:17

A low day, one characterised by anger and talk of inevitable change. Thanks to Tina Rothery for her take on the day 

Day 16 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people shivered at the roadside in fewer numbers than usual this freezing morning. There was an unsettling of mood that combined with more rapid truck movements and the shaping of new kerbs that meant we seemed more on edge; or maybe it was just me ‘feeling’ more today?. Fresh arrivals of sunshine and smiling faces around lunchtime and throughout the afternoon, lifted spirits, brought sumptuous lemon drizzle cake and the truly welcomed gift of cough medicine from our ‘Herbalist to the Protectors’ … but talk was of change to come and ways to deal with it.




So it seems the site is being pressured to up their game and in the absence of Saturday work (permitted on planning but not yet undertaken – we suspect due to less police availability on match days) Cuadrilla’s contractor AE Yates of Bolton, managed to bring in 5 trucks by 11 o’clock and a total of 10 on the day – the highest number yet. We slow-walked each and the road-sweeper at the end but there was no satisfaction in witnessing the shaping of the kerbs on this Cuadrilla road to hell.


The melancholy of the morning may be more about my mood but I sensed it in other Protectors at the roadside too; in fact I’m sensing this post will not be as pleasant as usual, apologies. It would be unnatural I suppose for us not to be suffering turmoil emotionally as we witness the thing we have dreaded, fought and held at bay – clawing up through the farmland before our eyes each and every day. The entire movement online too, seems awash with anger. Of course we’re angry; this is assault, an attack, an abuse of our right to protect our young, to nourish their futures with fresh water, clean air and a democracy fit for bloody purpose. In the absence of the actual assailants, we turn on each other, critique our methods, wonder at motives, challenge intent and gnaw away at our bonds… because we’re fuming and the genuine enemy, is cloaked and unreachable.

This industry has no moral core, no part of it that looks into our children’s eyes and puts their needs above all else… it self-regulates to the lowest standards, runs rings round our politicians (who will later be employed by them) and has command of law-makers who bend at its whim – we Protectors on the other hand act from our clear and certain moral core, defend our young at the expense of all else and yet – we impose the highest demands on each other, insist on results, work our unpaid selves beyond tired and still expect more. THIS is why we are angry… and although understandable, it hurts when this rage spills like acid onto each other.

The kerb stones are weaving an entrance and behind them, diggers eat away at the green fields, leaving mounds of dirt and metal fencing in their wake – the business of un-beautifying nature is the ugliest process; stripping off layers of adornment, seasons in the making. Beautiful opportunist birds sieze the upside though, flocking to feast on once hidden little critters freshly exposed. I wanted to cry, watching the man in the digger. We’d spoken earlier and smiled; I know he is not with a union, has no other job prospect and has a family to feed and house… I don’t know how to change this fact that means he is hurting my grandchild with every new gouge in the earth.

I looked across at my sister and she was waving, smiling, rousing ‘honks of support’ and I know, although she would not be anywhere else because this matters so much – that she wishes she was. What we do is sad… why we do it, is obligation and so we have to find the smiles, the kindness and the truth of each other if we are to get through the hardest bit of this. In 6 years, I have watched us tear and mend countless times… we get stronger every time.

Big thanks to those who stayed a little longer today as we didn’t trust that no more trucks would come. My sister and I had to leave at 3 but came back at 3:40 when we heard two trucks were on their way. They were pulled over a bit before the site and we drove past to see the temporary traffic lights being removed and no opening for them as the fencing had been pulled back… think the site rejected the late arrivals and was perhaps encouraged in this by the big car that would have prevented them letting anything in anyway. A local resident and Protector had decided to help them make their decision with inappropriate yet useful parking!

For me today, a low – but I know it will lift when warm Protectors meet at the roadside again and the kindness online, finds its way into my veins… see you tomorrow?

*Sign of the day in picture… honest, straightforward, to the point

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