Anti-fracking campaigners say they have been denied entry to the public inquiry considering Cuadrilla’s shale gas plans in Lancashire for wearing yellow frack-free shirts and logos.
Lancashire County Council, which is running the inquiry for the Planning Inspectorate, has said there were no instructions to bar people for wearing anti-fracking clothing.
Opponents of Cuadrilla’s plans have also complained about problems with the webcast of the inquiry.
The hearings at Blackpool Football Club conference centre are considering appeals by Cuadrilla against the refusal of planning permission to drill and frack up to eight wells at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
Claire Stephenson, of Preston New Road Action Group, said last night:
“We’ve had several complaints now, from members of the public, some of whom are also part of Frack Free Lancashire, who have been denied entry into a public Inquiry by over-zealous bouncers on the doors of Blackpool Football Club.”
“This has been due to wearing yellow t-shirts, memorabilia or Green Party clothing. Quite worrying that even at a public meeting, where people are legally entitled to enter, they are being denied a chance to view proceedings.”
The prominent anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, said he was held at the security check until after the start time of the inquiry. He said:
“I had informed them I had evidence that I needed to get to our team that I had not been able to email.”
“They made me late and they had started. No one from Lancashire County Council has yet explained or given me written acknowledgement why I was targeted.”
Andrew Mullaney, head of planning at Lancashire County Council, said
“No instruction has been given to refuse entry to people wearing particular clothing. We are asking people to submit to a bag search. The only reason to refuse entry would be if people did not agree to that.”
Claire Stephenson also criticised the website broadcasting the inquiry proceedings. She said the sound quality was poor and it had gone off air on Wednesday afternoon.
“So the public can’t get in, they can’t view it online and when they can view it, the audio is so poor, it’s unintelligible.”
The webcast of the inquiry has been organised by Cuadrilla. Yesterday, the company’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, said the webcast had been hit by a cyber attack.
But today, Cuadrilla released a statement clarifying the cause of the problems.
“The issue was found to be with the Internet Service Provider for the website, Heart Internet. Whilst Heart Internet originally believed it could be the victim of a cyber attack it then established that whilst engineers were carrying out some maintenance work “a safety warning was triggered which resulted in the shut-down of power.”
The statement said the webcast was working again today and a recording of yesterday’s session would be available for down load. It added that there was a back-up system in place should the website become unavailable again.