Breached traffic rules at Cuadrilla fracking site led to two-car crash – eye witness


Photo: John Tootill

An eye witness to a two-car accident outside Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool this morning said a truck preparing to make a delivery was breaking agreed traffic rules.

John Tootill, whose basic account of the accident has been confirmed by police, said a cement truck had stopped outside the Preston New Road site to turn right before two cars on the other side of the road collided.

Mr Tootill, who estimated he was about 20ft away, said:

 “The truck, travelling from the Preston direction, indicated to turn right into the site which is against the agreed rules. It was in the middle of the road. I saw that and shouted to the security people and police that this was against the agreement.

“The security people were moving the fence to allow it in. But the police gesticulated to the security people that this should not happen. The security staff followed the police instruction and gestured to the concrete wagon that it should drive on.

“The next car travelling from the Blackpool direction saw all this gesticulating and stopped. The car behind ploughed into the back of it.”

Reports said there were children in both cars. The occupants were taken to hospital by ambulance. The cement truck carried on to the next roundabout, approached the site from the permitted direction and was escorted in by police.


Photo: John Tootill

The traffic management plan for the exploration site requires all heavy goods vehicles to turn left in and out of the site.

Mr Tootill, a local nursery owner who has displayed large posters against fracking, said:

“In my view it is a chain of events. It would not have happened if that concrete vehicle had not been there.

“This incident was entirely created by Cuadrilla and their failed traffic management plan.”

He added:

“This is not the first vehicle to go into the site from the wrong direction. Yesterday vehicles were turning right to leave the site even though there is a sign on the exit which says no right turn.”

Police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said:

“I would strongly suggest that if Mr Toothill believes he witnessed the entire unfortunate accident between two private vehicles that he contacts the Police to give a proper statement.

“The traffic management system was not deployed as it can only operate from 9.30am to 3.30pm so the road was open as usual. The cement vehicle which was present was stationary and NOT involved the the traffic incident this morning.

“It was on the other side of the road and stationary at the time and never entered the East bound caraigeway where the accident happened.  It did indeed travel from the East however it did not turn into our site and there was no breach of conditions and LCC are aware of this.

“We are aware there was a traffic incident involving two private vehicles this morning at approx. 8.40am outside of the entrance of our Preston New Road site.  Neither vehicles are connected to the operations under way at our site.  Police are conducting a thorough investigation which we are assisting with in any way we can.”

Lancashire County Council confirmed last month that some lorries visiting the site had not followed the agreed route. But it said the council would not be taking action against them. DrillOrDrop report

Mr Tootill said the accident could have been much worse.

“I was completely shocked and the police, who witnessed the smash, were also stunned. Our immediate concern was for the welfare of the occupants of the vehicles. Clearly the new cement contractor either ignored Cuadrilla’s traffic management plan, or deliberately chose to ignore it. Corners are cut so regularly and this is the result.

“This could have very easily been a fatality. I was surprised at how quickly the damaged vehicles were removed from the scene – normally there would be measurements of vehicles with an accident of this scale. ”

Preston New Road Action Group, which opposed Cuadrilla’s plans at a public inquiry, said:

“We are very concerned at the risk of accidents around this site. We highlighted this strongly at the planning inquiry. We indicated this is a very busy road, with regular fast-moving traffic. With road users now encountering many large and slow-moving vehicles turning and accessing the site, the risks have dramatically increased.

“The traffic management plan is meant to minimise or avoid risk. It will only do that if it followed to the letter. We await the full details on this matter. Our primary concern is now for the families affected and we wish to ensure no further accidents of this nature happen again. This road used to be an accident blackspot: we have no wish to see it return to that.”

Frack Free Lancashire has called on Lancashire County Council to take action to prevent more breaches of the traffic management plan.

Updated 18.32 with additional material from Cuadrilla.



34 replies »

  1. I hope no one was seriously injured, the damage looks horrendous.
    Was the issue of that road being a former accident black spot addressed in the TMP does anyone know?

  2. This is entirely the protestors fault. As far as I am aware they are supposedly campaigning against fracking not the construction of access roads. You have an upcoming H.C. case for this site. So unless you think you don’t have a chance of winning what’s the problem?

  3. It is entirely NOT the protectors’ fault if HGVs are ignoring the traffic management plan and turning right when they are not allowed to do so. It is Cuadrilla’s fault – and their contractors – and work should be ceased immediately if the construction companies cannot follow the agreed traffic rules as laid down in the planning conditions. This, in the end, is what planning conditions are for.

    • Chris, if you honestly think the distraction of police and protestors will not be blamed if there is a casualty I’m afraid I think you may have a tough time convincing people to blame anyone else. Whilst everyone is aware of peoples rights to protest there does come a time where the line is drawn if common sense isn’t used. It’s an amalgamation of events; stereo systems in the middle of the road, camoflauged hoodies that try and mask their aggressive nature, threatening workers with little notes etc etc.
      I’d like proper debate and protesting to make sure rules are adhered to but for that to happen we need a strong opposition and acting the way certain people are is not going to provide that. It’s like the Labour party’ current situation.

  4. Let’s get this absolutely clear, the driver of the first car stopped because of the police gesticulating on a straight stretch of road and the second car failed to stop in time. The lorry should not have been attempting to turn right against agreed arrangements. But whose fault is it that children were put at risk? Partly the second car must have been driving too close and secondly because the first driver was presumably confused by the police gesticulating. Now why were the police there? Because of the protesters and for no other reason. Next time you run into the back of a car try telling the insurance company it was the fault of a lorry on the other side of the road facing you.

    • I agree with your assessment of the accidence. Obviously the protesters will claim its Caudrilla fault but if you hit a car from the back that means you follow the front car too close or driving too fast it is your fault.

    • And why are the protesters there? Because the cuadrilla are there, and why are they there? Because central government overturned a democratic decision made by the council of Lancashire in response to the people they represent telling them they don’t want it.
      You can keep passing the responsibility on to others but the facts are the facts, the TMP was not adhered to and now two families are recovering from the shock of being involved in a major collision that could have been a hell of a lot worse, and that is the fault of those who failed to stick to the plan that was put in place TO PREVENT THIS HAPPENING!

  5. Just, perhaps, this was linked to the “regular” supplier who was familiar with the system being forced out of the supply contract by (reported) intimidation, and this one was confused as a newbee?? Just speculation, I know, but it seems to be the acceptable standard.

    Don’t mean to sound smug, but I warned that someone could get seriously injured many weeks ago.

    The simple answer, is an exclusion zone for protesters.

  6. The simple answer is to close the site down. No need for protectors then. If Cuadrilla and it’s associated suppliers cannot follow a simple traffic plan, what hope is there that they’ll follow the so called world class standards.

  7. The simple answer is we return to using the candle.
    Malcolm, are you not aware the “simple traffic plan” is not so simple, and has already required modification by the police to try and avoid risk to the public?? De nile is in Egypt, not in the Fylde.

  8. Why would you want to return to candles Matin – plenty of hydrocarbons floating round if you prefer them. No need for UK fracking.

  9. So accidents do happen in the Fylde, just like anywhere else. Usually it is one of the drivers to blame? When you do your driving test you are required to drive a safe distance from the car in front?

  10. I saw the build up to the accident.
    The cement lorry was approaching site in a group of vehicles.
    He was struggling to find the entrance to the site on Preston New Road, ON HIS RIGHT!
    He pulled into the middle of the road, wanted to proceed right into site.
    Confusion as yellow, red and blue jackets all said NO and entrance was not opened!
    From Blackpool direction a driver stopped quickly right outside entrance to the site.
    The vehicle behind didn’t stop in time and rear ended it! Casualties taken to hospital.
    CAUSE: rubbish traffic management from all concerned. Site entrance on dangerous high speed road. London temporary politician taking decisions with no local knowledge!

    • No protesters, no need for red, yellow or blue jackets outside the site, then no accidents. From the look of the car it’s lucky someone wasn’t seriously hurt. And why are we in a situation when 6 policeman are escorting a lorry driver going about his lawful work when the police could be doing something actually useful. The protesters seem to think its OK to do stupid things like jump on lorries or slow walk in front as the self-appointed guardians of the environment, but when the presence of police to prevent such behaviour causes stress and confusion (probably the indirect cause of the accident) they blame everyone but themselves.

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