Updated: Pictures and messages from United Against Fracking rally


Organisers estimated up to 2,000 anti-fracking campaigners marched through Manchester today as part of the United Against Fracking demonstration. Police estimated the numbers at about 1,000.

Campaigners from across the UK gathered in Piccadilly Gardens before marching through the city centre to Castlefield Bowl for a rally with speeches.

DrillOrDrop followed the event and reports on the key messages from speakers.

Speeches end and music starts from DJ Dave Haslem


Dan Evans, campaigner against fracking in Sussex, Salford and Lancashire


“The time has come to build our democracy for the people, for a positive relationship with our planet, that says no to fracking and any other industry that threatens people’s health. The time has come to find that power.”

John Ashton, former special adviser on climate change to the Foreign Office


“In England, fracking is dead in the water because we are going to stop it.

“Our enemies fight with money. We fight with love. Our enemies fight with lies. We fight with the truth.

“Our enemies fight from gated palaces separate from the people. We are the people and you cannot defeat the people.

“We need to stay united against fracking. Roseacre can win. Preston New Road can win but only if we stay together.

Mr Ashton said Andy Burnham had promised if he became mayor of Greater Manchester that there would be a proper memorial to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000 which had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Mr Ashton told the crowd:

“That will be our memorial because we stand up because we care and because we don’t want injustice and tyranny.”

Video message from Emma Thompson

“We fight for a frack free future for our children and ourselves. I wish I was there with you today. All power to your elbows.”

2.35pm Tina Rothery


“We are in a unique position. Fracking is not happening in the UK. We are not stopping it. We are not letting it happen. Once it starts they have the law on their sides.”

The crowd heard that Ms Rothery had been ordered to appear in court in Preston at 11am on Friday 9 December charged with contempt of court. The case arises from a long-running dispute over legal costs with the shale gas company, Cuadrilla.

Ms Rothery faces two weeks in prison after refusing to disclose financial information to the court. Cuadrilla had been awarded costs amounting to more than £50,000 after Ms Rothery asked for an adjournment of an eviction hearing. If the sentence is imposed, she will be the first woman to be sent to prison in case related to the campaign against fracking..

David Smythe, emeritus professor of geophysics, University of Glasgow


David Smythe said the US shale gas industry was $200bn in debt. Extracting shale gas in the UK would be two-three times more expensive than it was in the US. He told the crowd:

“My message to you is to keep up the pressure by all legal means at the local level because I think within a year the investors in Cuadrilla, Third Energy, INEOS and IGas will pull the plug.

“No investors will come forward to put money in something that is not financially viable.

“We just have to hang in there.”

David Smythe said Glasgow University had not responded by last night’s deadline to his crowd-funded legal challenge over the withdrawal of his academic email and journal access. He said he had been told he had a very strong case. He said: “We shall win”.

He also revealed that the play Fracked! Or don’t mention the F-word, staring James Bolan and Anne Reid, which staged at Chichester to sell-out audiences in the summer is to go on tour and to the West End.

Rt Rev Graham Cray, Kirby Misperton, Ryedale


“The planet is a gift not a possession to use as we wish.

“Fracking is not for the common good. It has no social licence. It is imposed on unwilling communities democracy will be undermined.

The fact that we can extract shale gas is not a moral reason to do it.”

Gina Dowding, Lancashire County Council


“We have been betrayed by our government.

“Whoever is in the White House or in Number 10, we need to make sure they do not hoodwink us into believing that fracking is the future of our energy policy.

“Our leaders need to respect the science of climate change. The science is not negotiable. We must respect the facts and build a green future because our lives depend on it”.

Penny Cole, The Broad Alliance, Scotland


“The reason we have a moratorium in Scotland is because of the way the community came together and forced the government to face facts”

Julie Wassmer, East Kent Against Fracking


“When is democracy, not democracy? When the government is interfering in local decisions.

“When is fracking not fracking? When the government chooses to redefine it in the Infrastructure Act. What a total insult to the intelligence of people in this country that our government thinks that if they don’t mention the F-word we won’t worry about it.

“We say to our government: ‘Listen to the many, not the money’.

“Say no to fracking in Lancashire and elsewhere because the day we stop doing that is the day we say yes.”

Bianca Jagger, Founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation


“I am here as a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. I believe fracking is a threat to our way of life, to our water supplies, to the air we breathe and to the environment.

“It is time for the government of the UK to stop its incestuous relationship with the oil and gas industry. Fracking is not the panacea they have told us it is.

Theresa May must understand that the people of this country are serious, that they mean what they say when they come out for a rally like this.

“You are not alone. I am with you and there are millions of people who support your struggle. We will defeat fracking.”

Morgan Marshall, 13, playing Do you hear the people sing? with specially-adapted lyrics


Andy Burnham, Labour MP for Leigh and Labour candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester


“I was surprised to see that there were exploration licences in Leigh. I looked into fracking and realised that I could not support it because of the risk to your geology and our green spaces.

“If I cannot support fracking in Leigh, I cannot support it in Greater Manchester and I cannot support it anywhere.

“What worries me is that the government has taken powers to impose it on local people. They have taken the say of local people and I will stand against it if I am elected mayor of Greater Manchester.

“If fracking is not good enough for New York, it is not good enough for Greater Manchester.

“The case for fracking has not been made. It belongs in the past, not the future.”

Sue Gough, Frack Free Ryedale


“We have been fighting this for two and a half years. In all that time we have prevented fracking from happening. I would think Third Energy expected to be drilling by now.

For the 4,000 people who commented on Third Energy’s plans [to frack in Ryedale], only about 30 were in favour and not one of them lived in or near Kirby Misperton. This demonstrates there is not social licence for fracking.

“Everyone can do something. Everyone can contribute to this campaign. The important thing is to do something. Don’t just sit by and let this happen.”

Claire Stephenson, Preston New Road Action Group, Lancashire


“We have been dismissed as unimportant. We have been described as receptors.

“They picked a fight with the wrong people. Our children matter. Our vulnerable and elderly residents matter.

“We will not give up. We will take this to the highest level.”

Barbara Richardson, Roseacre Awareness Group, Lancashire


After the decision by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, to reopen the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s application to frack at Roseacre Wood, Mrs Richardson said:

“This is no longer just about fracking and the harm it brings to communities, our environment and climate change. This is now about local people having a say in their own future. This is about the people. To quote Theresa May “we will look after the interests of the ordinary working people not the rich and powerful. False words indeed. They only mean it when it suits them.

“People feel so strongly. Ordinary men and women like me, who has never done anything like this before but, we have been forced to action.

“There are many of us put lives in hold and sacrificed so much. Do not underestimate what this costs in money and time and effort.

“We have to be strong and resolute. We will only stop this by working together  and showing the oil and gas industry and our complicit government that we will not be bullied. We will not shut up and go away.

“This is about us the people. We do matter. Never have I seen such strong feeling amongst communities from right across the UK…… no the world.”

Crowds gather at Castlefield Bowl, Manchester



12 noon
March leaves Piccadilly Gardens




Speeches begin in Piccadilly Gardens

The crowd hears from Kevin Blowe, of Netpol, which is contributing to a new research project on policing of anti-fracking protests.


The Green Party candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, Deyika Nzeribe (above), called on the anti-fracking movement to give the shale gas industry “the scrutiny it deserved”.

John Hodson, speaking for David McCoy, of the health charity Medact, said the biggest threat to health from shale gas extraction was its contribution to climate change. The crowd also heard from Stephen Garsted, Conor Dwyer of Friends of the Earth and the Climate Jobs initiative.

louise-somerville-williamsLouise Somerville Williams, of Frack Free Somerset, (above) told the crowd:

“People have said no to this industry. We can win. We will win. This is what democracy looks like”.



11am Crowds gathering in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester




98 replies »

  1. Obviously the thousands of protest this event were hoping to show the public how serious this issue is didn’t turn up and probably have better things to do. The anti fracking claims the Government and industry is a threat to democracy that stir up the passion in a lot of public anger. Well compare this national well promoted and sponsored national event to that of anti Trump and the one in South Korea it seems that people don’t see this as and injustice issues but a political and self serving interest of an individual groups of organizations (just as the shale industry). In PR assessment, any sponsored national event that attracts less than a couple of thousands people (let alone less than 800) deem to be an unsuccessful and small local issue rather than a systematic national issues.

    • It’s interesting that a little over five years ago just five people around a table stood up against fracking. The first ‘march’ was just 50 people down a local by pass. Now in 2016 a march through a major commercial city with over 1000 people.

      You can keep dreaming. Over 250 groups recorded here http://frack-off.org.uk/local-group-specific-pages/ and many more not. All against will keep working. Not everyone marches. Some do legal work, some attend planning meetings, some protest. Each does what he or she can. You will not stop this tide Canute, however loud you shout.

  2. the number of people who were there makes no difference whatsoever to the rights and wrongs of fracking – castlefield arena has a capacity of 8,000 and it was at least a quarter full

  3. I have been watching the posts from a distance, so have not commented for a while. I see the head counters are still avoiding the essential questions and issues to distract and divert away from the purpose of the event. its not the number of heads, its why they are there.
    So what are the real issues here?
    1. The populace is being sidelined and refused access to democracy
    2. The vast majority of people do not want fracking and it is being forced upon them
    3. Any opposition is vilified and targeted in the courts by the fracking companies to squash protest and opposition
    4. People are just trying to protect their children, there health, their food, their water their air and their freedom to live in a clean and safe environment
    5. No-one wants (not so) cheap energy at the price of the health and the destruction of their environment, we would rather go cold than be slaves to the energy companies and we should be creating supportive communities and sharing resources.
    6. Accidents and deliberate cover ups of dangerous processes will not be cleaned up for the foreseeable future, just one accident will pollute the local environment for the foreseeable future and probably will never be clean again.
    7. People protest, that is all that is left to them, it does not matter if it is one, or a million, common sense is common sense, numbers are irrelevant.
    8. Fracking is part of a wider agenda, re-injection of waste and nuclear waste is one aspect of a longer term goal, ownership and partition of the rural environment is another, see the razor wire. Forcing people into city states is another.
    9. Denial of democracy is is also part of the wider agenda, government should be no more than public servants, governments should be scared of the populace, not the people scared of government.
    10. Talking and writing here is not enough, action by legal protest and pressure on MP’s, councilors and central government is the way to go now.

    • Yes. You are right. Those who believe in their worthy cause must do more than protest and words. They must take action against fossil fuels like natural gas to protect environment of their children future (just like they wrote on the banners). They must take action true to their word by stopping using natural gas themselves whether it is cooki g or heating. They must ban themselves from using anything related to oil and gas. If they don’t want uk gas but still want to use other imports then they need to lobby the government and their MPs to legislate compulsory labeling of imported gas (just like local food product label) and ask for foreign imported gas only when they buy and make sure to tell the gas attendant that they against the local gas production because it cause polution to local environment. Now these are real actions making it real and not empty rhetoric and catching slogan.

      • Perhaps you should start to produce your own labeling, bottles of ‘Frack Water, sourced from finest fracking wells’, ‘Gas produced at the expense of the health of local residents’ ‘this food may contain fracking agents’ ‘Nosebleed and vomiting area, only methane and CO2 breathed here’ ‘GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING, FRACKING WILL KILL YOU QUICKER THAN SMOKING (SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL SMOKE)’ ‘Sacrifice Zone, you will be sacrificed if you live here’ ‘NO DEMOCRACY HERE, LIVING AND BREATHING IS A CAPITAL OFFENCE’ ‘NO DEMOCRATIC RIGHT OF PROTEST WILL BE TOLERATED’ ‘SPEAKING YOUR MIND IS A CAPITAL OFFENCE, PUNISHABLE BY ARREST AND HEAVY FINES AND/OR PRISON SENTENCE’

      • People really have gas attendants where you come from TW? Where IS that? Round here they just pipe it in and send you the bill later.

      • TW. Your comment advocating that everyone opposed to fracking should stop using gas is ridiculous.
        No one is claiming that we can be fossil fuel free overnight. However, every journey starts with a single step but walking backwards by developing even more even more sources of fossil fuel means we’ll never get there.

  4. Great report Ruth!

    Oh Peeny and TW! How painful it must have been to read all that and how you must have itched to disparage all that energy and commitment!

    But seriously, have you forgotten that the last time the pro frackers tried to organise a rally (and I mean organise – they even had an ex military “parade commander” for the day who it seems didn’t even turn up) they managed to assemble just 40 blokes in black track suits, Lorraine and that nice lady who got sacked for attending. Nobody had to paid to attend yesterday you know. I say Peeny has forgotten but of course, being in the USA, he probably isn’t even aware of the embarrassment the pro-frackers must have felt at having to abort the carefully prepared plan for a march past due to lack of support and replace it with a sad sort of shuffle across the road. People in glass houses really shouldn’t throw stones. When you lot can raise a crowd of a couple of dozen people without a financial interest in fracking do let us know. Until then you are only embarrassing yourselves.

    • I thought someone anti frackers here said the numbers dont mean anything it just what the stand for so those 40 pro frackers must have stand for a good cause too (whatever their arguments are). So their messages are also just as valid. Fracking must have others support that didn’t turn up (based on your reasoning).

      But action is what’s required ban yourself from using uk natural gas or lobby the government to import more gas if you still want to use it. Action not words.

  5. One thing frackers and their supporters, shills and trolls aren’t famous for – is accuracy. Anyone who was there yesterday knows that there were at least 2,000 – 2500 people at the march – which must be rather a worry for the likes of Francis Egan and his cronies because should Cuadrilla even get close to fracking another well in Lancashire, they should know by now how many people are likely to turn out and oppose this – yesterday’s march and the rally, of course, were simply our way of turning out on a wet day to remind Egan & Co that we are not going anywhere. I said yesterday that it’s time this industry and our govt listened to to the many – not the money. They’re making a big mistake in not doing so, as are the uninformed pro-fracking commentators on this page who bleat not only inaccurate information on fracking but on the numbers present at events like this – particularly since a number of films are already circulating on Facebook showing the march in its entirety…give it up, lads, you’re losing more and more credibility with each comment. #sadforyou http://www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=3558

  6. Any coverage of this milestone event in the National Press? I assume not based on the nil response to this comment earlier. Perhaps tomorrow?

    • Not seen any Paul – The BBC news site was leading on Saturday with the story of a paraglider getting into difficulties on a beach in Kent.

      Still that was down South and and this demo happened in Manchester – the centre of the Northern Poor House in the desolate North.

  7. Nick and I were part of the team who organised the event. The police told us that they estimated 2000 at the event. On the march people were coming out of shops and cafes and were cheering us on and asking us for leaflets. At the same time another rally was being held in Lisbon. 500 to a 1000 attended. They marched in solidarity with us. This can be found on facebook.

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