Residents Action on Fylde Fracking

RELEASE: Anti-frackers swing into action at Lancashire quarry

For immediate release: 27/03/17

Contact: 07376 530 298

Anti-fracking activists from Bristol swung into action in Lancashire this morning with a blockade at Preston New Road fracking site suppliers Aggregate Industries. The blockade is the launch action of Break the Chain, a fortnight of interventions called by national social and climate justice group Reclaim the Power.[1]

Lorry access to the company’s quarry in Carnforth has been entirely suspended by the appearance of two protesters on swings which were rigged onto height restriction bars at two key access points and are blocking all lorry movements. The police are on site.

Aggregate Industries is one of several companies supplying the controversial fracking site [Preston New Road] currently under construction outside Blackpool.  At least five companies are believed to have pulled out of further work at the site as a result of rising protests against their involvement.[2]

Credit: Reclaim the Power

One of the protesters, Chris Thomson explained:

“We’re up here today because fracking isn’t a playground game. We need to give Aggregate Industries a reason to rethink its position, which is at odds with local democracy. Lancashire said no to fracking. Its imposition threatens local jobs and health and will have deadly impacts on those already facing the consequences of climate change in drought-hit East Africa and beyond.  

“We’re asking Aggregate Industries to do the decent thing. Follow the example of other companies in the area. Step away from fracking your neighbours and we’ll gladly come down.”

They hope that the forthcoming protests will help expose the large network of industrial processes, from sand quarrying to toxic water dumping, which will expand if commercial scale fracking goes ahead. Reclaim the Power is also hoping to support momentum for a national grassroots response to fracking plans in 2017.

Bristol anti-fracker Sam Faulkner added:

“Fracking is currently threatening Bristol and we won’t be able to defeat it alone, but we also know we won’t have to.  The people of the Fylde and Bolton have shown the way. Solidarity is growing as fast as the industry’s expansion plans. Which is fortunate, because it’s going to take all of our care and creative plotting to stop this. Day after day, all over the country, we need to get in the way. Get your friends together and get in.”

The activists are part of Bristol Rising Tide, the group who occupied the first Lancaster Fracking Rig for 11 hours in December 2011. The rig was responsible for the only test frack to be carried out in the UK to date, and resulted in an earthquake which caused a temporary moratorium to be placed on the technology.

The south west is currently facing a new round of licensing threats, including one at Weston Super Mare, just up the road from Bristol. Bristol activists also plan to demonstrate outside a branch of fracking funder Barclays later in the week.

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CONTACT: Call 07376 530 298 or email press@reclaimthepower.org.uk for on site interviews with the activists. Photos available via Flickr.

NOTES:

  1. For more information on plans for Break the Chain see https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/news/release-anti-fracking-networks-to-escalate-fight-against-industry/
  2. Most recently, quarry operators Armstrong Aggregates have terminated their contract with Cuadrilla after local protest. Moore Readymix concrete company have also ended their contract.
  3. Reclaim the Power is a UK-based direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice. They have been working to oppose fracking since organising mass action at Balcombe in 2013. Since then, they’ve hosted anti-fracking action camps in Blackpool and Didcot, and taken countless actions against the industry. Read more at: www.reclaimthepower.org.uk
  4. Protests by locals have also been taking place every day at one of the proposed fracking sites in Lancashire, slowing and often halting Cuadrilla’s work to prepare the site for drilling
  5. Surveys have shown that public opposition to fracking is far higher than support, with just 18% supporting (Statistics from BEIS Public Attitude Tracker www.gov.uk/government/statistics/energy-and-climate-change-public-attitudes-tracker-wave-20).

 

Cowardly UCLAN postpones energy debate due to ‘safety issues’

News that the UCLAN event, Energy Futures: Global Challenges Debate, has been cancelled has been met with dismay by local residents. The debate was due to have taken place at the University of Central Lancashire on Wednesday 22 March. Residents, as well as UCLAN students and staff, were looking forward to hearing speakers from the shale gas and nuclear industries as well as representatives from the Green Party. Residents were particularly looking forward to hearing what Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan had to say, given his company’s reluctance to engage with local communities since it began drilling in the Fylde in 2010.

A UCLAN spokesperson said: ‘Having conducted a thorough risk assessment of our venue and facilities, and having received advice from a number of external agencies including the police, and internal participants, on health, safety and security issues, the University has decided to postpone the planned debate. We were very keen for students, staff and University guests to experience an open debate of all the energy issues in a welcoming and safe environment. However, the intelligence we have received has led us to conclude that it would not be possible for our speakers, audience and the wider University community to have a free, open and safe debate in the format planned.’

Some members of the public had also voiced their opposition to the event, due to the poor representation of renewable energy sectors on the panel.

Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) said: ‘At a time when parts of Lancashire are about to face intense industrialisation in the pursuit of shale gas, this event provided a golden opportunity for both the industry and residents to engage in an open debate in a neutral setting. To bow out, citing safety issues, is cowardly. We find it ironic that the organisers mention safety as a major issue, when our county is about to face massive public health and environmental dangers from the extensive planned extraction of shale gas. Once again, we are being denied the right to be heard. At what point will Francis Egan be prepared to sit on a platform and answer our questions?

Preston New Road Action Group Concludes their Legal Challenge

PRESS RELEASE

Preston New Road Action Group Concludes their Legal Challenge

16th March 2017

For immediate release

Preston New Road Action Group and individual campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, have today seen the conclusion of their legal review against the Secretary of State. The review was in reference to Sajid Javid MP’s overturning of Lancashire County Council’s planning refusal for Cuadrilla’s fracking appeal.

The judgement, delivered by The Honourable Mr Justice Dove, is expected within weeks.

Pat Davies, Chair of Preston New Road stated:

“We are grateful to our legal team for their hard work and case presentation. After three years, the community of Preston New Road has suffered enough. Our community said no, Lancashire County Council development committee said no and we look forward to the outcome of the hearing. We place our trust in justice being restored and this application being quashed.”

Preston New Road take their legal challenge to Manchester court

PRESS RELEASE 

Preston New Road Action Group

14th March 2017

For immediate release

This week, Preston New Road Action Group are taking their fracking legal challenge to the Manchester Court of Civil Justice. We have consistently, through legal process, fought to have the voice of local residents heard. The voice of our Community was loud and strong it said no to fracking.

Local democracy which said no, was overturned by the Secretary of State in Westminster. Sajid Javid has not visited or engaged with the communities that would be affected to understand the real impacts of his decision. We believe that this is neither just nor democratic.

We seek to have the Secretary of State’s decision declared unjust and quashed.

Local democracy and true justice have not been observed in Lancashire so far. We hope finally, to see the justice for which Britain used to be known for, restored, and the will of communities and the local planning system upheld.

Micromanagement of our community by Westminster, when at the same time this government preaches devolution to local councils, is symbolic of a government which says one thing and does another. It is fundamentally wrong that the corporate greed triumphs over community health and wellbeing.

Theresa May talks of “justice for all”. That message has not permeated to her ministers, it would seem.

The Conservative government have denied Preston New Road and Lancashire Community the right to “influence and be involved in shaping and determining planning decisions” as outlined as an aim in the government’s National Planning Police Framework.

The Secretary of State’s decision to overrule local planning law is open to question, in much the same way as some of his other decisions have recently provoked questions in Westminster. His decision makes a sham of Theresa May’s oratory.

Dismantling local democracy was the only way this industry and central government could force fracking down the throats of unwilling local residents. This is corruption and abuse of power. There is no social licence to frack Lancashire. This overturning of a local planning decision must be quashed.

Democracy died in Lancashire after this October decision. We hope it can be resurrected by the Manchester Court finding this decision to allow fracking unlawful and one which must be revoked immediately.

People matter, communities matter: our views must be the guiding principle on which true democracy is based. Lancashire has spoken and we will be heard.

Preston New Road super pad will probably be largest in the world with 40-60 wells

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 11.48.33

 

This picture is captured from drone footage of the Preston New Road site at the end of last week – 10 March 2017 (that’s the A583 Preston New Road running from the left). Facebook users can see the video of the drone footage which shows the site from several different angles. Click here.

Cuadrilla’s CEO Francis Egan is fond of telling residents and the media that the pad will be the size of a rugby pitch and that it will be home to four wells. Some rugby pitch! This is a super pad. What’s more we have been told by an independent oil and gas engineer that this will probably be the largest super pad in the WORLD and that Cuadrilla will more than likely drill between 40-60 wells on it. Start to multiple this up – according to the operators 100 more super pads are needed in the Fylde and the rest of Lancashire – and this gives you some some idea why Egan said that our area will be the “largest gas field in Western Europe.”

As we’ve stated many times before rural Fylde is about to be converted into an industrialised zone with all the pollution and risks to public health associated with an unregulated filthy industry.

 

 

 

Escalating Police Violence Against Anti-Fracking Campaigners

PRESS RELEASE 8 March 2017

                              Frack Free Lancashire

  Escalating Police Violence Against Anti-Fracking Campaigners

Frack Free Lancashire is horrified by the escalating police violence that campaigners are facing daily at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site on the Fylde Coast, resulting with local farmer John Tootill being assaulted by police and arrested today.

Reminiscent of Barton Moss and Balcombe policing levels and force, peaceful protestors are regularly facing assaults and aggressive policing methods, including the use of pressure points to subdue peaceful protestors.

Frack Free Lancashire strongly believe that the right to protest is not being facilitated by the police, with repeated video evidence of aggressive, unnecessary force to facilitate the Cuadrilla over and above the rights of the community to protest against the undemocratic imposition of a dangerous industry that was voted against.

Kevin Blowe, the coordinator for the Networks for Police Monitoring (Netpol) said:

“Lancashire Police have a duty not only to ‘facilitate’ protest but to ensure the right to freedom of assembly is genuinely protected. When campaigners face uncertainty from one day to the next about whether they might suddenly face arrest or the prospect of disproportionately violent policing, this fundamental right is threatened.

“Once again, we urge the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, to publish a plan for the policing of protests containing a clear set of minimum standards and expectations about police conduct and tactics. They need to start listening to local communities about the right to protest against a site that has been overwhelming rejected by the people of Lancashire.”

Councillor Miranda Cox from Kirkham, stated:

“We have witnessed and experienced an increase in police numbers and a gardening of tactics. At times it has felt that we are being policed as if we are in a riot situation. Clearly there is a balance between public safety and public order and the right to protest, at present the balance appears to tilt in favour of industry rather than the protesters. Arrests appear to be used routinely.

Claire Stephenson from the Preston New Road Action Group said:

“The escalation of aggression by the police into what can only be described as gratuitous violence, seems inextricably linked to Francis Egan’s pleading visit to the Home Office to ask for governmental intervention on anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire. The community and campaigners have been treated with utter contempt. Assaults carried out by police on protestors have caused many injuries, including two of our councilors. The daily planning breaches that are occurring, without consequence for Cuadrilla, clearly demonstrates the inadequacies of this non-starter of an industry and its imaginary regulations. The bias is staggering and we will continue to strongly, but peacefully, resist.”

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. Photos attached, with attribution as required for photographer Peter Yankowski’s image.

 

John Tootill arrested

 

pnr-170301-peter-yankowski-6-1

 

PNR Solidarity Saturdays at Maple Farm – every Saturday!

Now that Cuadrilla have invaded Preston New Road, people gather each day to delay their progress and receive huge support from passing motorists. Online too there is a wealth of support but not everyone can be at the demonstration each weekday 9am-3pm; so on Saturdays we are hosting get-togethers just down the road at Maple Farm (next door to World of Water Blackpool.)

Ths is an opportunity for passers-by, drivers who honk support, visitors, residents, Protectors and others to get together after the long week, enjoy refreshments from the Nanas and chat as a community about what we do to ensure we stop this site from ever reaching the fracking stage.

There will also be Frack Free Lancashire merchandise for sale, information sheets and plenty of people who can answer questions.

You can park either at Maple Farm or at the rear of World of Water. If travelling by train get off at Kirkham and get the 61 bus just outside the station – there’s a bus stop very close to Maple Farm on Preston New Road. If travelling by bus from Blackpool or Preston, you need to catch the number 61 and get off at Maple Farm.

We do hope you can join us – the first few have been very popular and the cakes just get better and better!

Cuadrilla attempts to renew injunction on Preston New Road site

From Drill or Drop. Please see the Drill or Drop post on this issue.

Cuadrilla, is going to court on Monday to try to renew an injunction at its Preston New Road fracking site at Little Plumpton, near Blackpool.

 

A hearing before a High Court judge in Manchester seeks to prevent access to the site, where work began in January in advance of drilling and fracking.

Notices about the injunction have been  posted at the site. The claimants named on the notice include two Cuadrilla companies and 10 owners of the land. The defendants are named as “persons unknown”, “persons entering or remaining on land at Little Plumpton & at Roseacre” and Tina Rothery.

How many rugby pitches Cuadrilla?

 

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This latest drone photograph of the Cuadrilla site at Preston New Road was taken on 25 February 2017. You may have heard Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan assure residents that the fracking pad will be no larger than a rugby pitch. Well that is some pitch Egan.

We have contacted Lancashire County Council planning department as well as Sajid Javid as this is a breach of what was agreed. So far we haven’t had a reply from either. How dare Egan and Cuadrilla patronise residents in this way. If you feel the same way please contact Lancashire County Council Planning 01772 531929 or 01772 534181 and contact Secretary of State Sajid Javid  Email: sajid.javid.mp@parliament.uk Website: www.sajidjavid.com; Twitter: @sajidjavid; Facebook: facebook.com/pages/saj. Let us know how you get on at RAFFgroup@hotmail.co.uk

 

egan

 

Photo by Cheryl Atkinson

FFL statement on Saturday’s national anti-fracking rally

For immediate release
26th February 2017

PRESS RELEASE
Frack Free Lancashire

Frack Free Lancashire, supported by Friends of the Earth, Frack Off, Greenpeace, The Green Party of England and Wales, Reclaim the Power, multiple unions and other NGOs, saw a successful National Anti-Fracking Rally yesterday. The event was held at Maple Farm, just down from the site Cuadrilla is currently preparing for hydraulic fracturing, in the face of further legal challenges on the 15th March against the Secretary of State’s decision to overrule local democracy.

With an estimated 1000+ attendees, the audience heard many passionate speeches. Friends of the Earth’s CEO, Craig Bennett, talked about the urgent global need to reduce fossil fuel use. Labour’s MP, Cat Smith, also spoke to the crowds on democracy, along with a host of other community and national speakers. Musicians, face-painters and dancers entertained the multi-generational crowd, while the Nanas served their infamous helpings of cake, soup sandwiches and tea.

Representatives of groups travelled from across the country in solidarity with Lancashire and the Preston New Road community who are under threat from fracking company, Cuadrilla, after the government overrode local democracy and gave approval to carry out exploratory works at the Preston New Road site.

The event finished at 14.00hrs, when many people made their way up to the site entrance where a pagan group carried out a peaceful water blessing ceremony.

Frack Free Lancashire is disappointed with the number of officers deployed by Lancashire Police, the use of police resources and the closing of roads when it was unnecessary to do so. The Fylde Police’s quote of “Around 150 [protestors] proceeded to try to breach the fencing and to gain access to the site” is a factually incorrect representation of what happened. Around 15-25 individuals accessed the site of their own accord via an already-present breach in the hedge.

A large number of people gathered at the site entrance in a peaceful presence for the blessing, as is our right to do so. No fencing was “breached”. A loose Heras fence panel was pushed over, however, but there was an unnecessarily oppressive line of police and security guards blocking Cuadrilla’s site. It is not surprising people feel disenfranchised and enraged about the blatant facilitation by a Conservative government of an industry that was democratically refused entry to our county.

There were no arrests and the whole day was conducted in a peaceful spirit. Fylde Police’s account which was posted on Facebook, was biased, distorted and contained many inaccuracies.

After a week of us dealing with printed untruths by The Daily Telegraph with a resulting ongoing investigation by the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the quote now appears as if Cuadrilla themselves spoke it. Frack Free Lancashire will not accept such distortions of the truth without redressing the balance. We will seek to engage with the police this week and request an official amendment of their claims.
Overall, our National Rally day was a magnificent and peaceful event, where all age groups gathered in solidarity for family-friendly fun, with many pledges of support from individuals and organisations to join with us from now on, in our rapidly growing resistance against an unwanted fracking industry with no social license. ENDS.

 

Fylde Police Statement:

Fylde Police statement

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