Updated: Hundreds rally against fracking in two shale gas areas



Preston New Road. Photo: Ros Wills

Two rallies against fracking today attracted hundreds of campaigners from across the country.

Organisers estimated about 1,000 people gathered near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool for a rally billed as a family-friendly national day of action.

According to organisers, more than 400 people took part in a march from Mosborough, near Sheffield, to Marsh Lane in Derbyshire where INEOS has announced plans for what could be its first shale gas site.

Preston New Road rally


Photo: Ros Wills

People from as far apart as Brighton, Scarborough and Yeovil joined local residents at a rally with speeches and music at Maple Farm, near Little Plumpton.

Speakers included Friends of the Earth’s chief executive, Craig Bennett, and Labour MP, Cat Smith.


Photo: Preston New Road Action Group

Claire Stephenson, of Preston New Road Action Group told the Blackpool Gazette the rally had been “brilliant” and support from around the country had been “heartening”.

She told the paper:

“We had a really lovely event and then a water blessing afterwards. Our event ended at 2pm so we can’t comment any anything after that. Our message is peaceful protest.”


Water blessing. Photo: Cheryl Atkinson



Photo: Ros Wills

A police statement issued during the event said:

“POLICE are currently dealing with a significant number of protestors at the Cuadrilla site on Preston New Road.

“Following an earlier event at Maple Farm badged as a national day of anti fracking action, a significant number of protestors believed to number around 250 made to the Cuadrilla site on Preston New Road.

“Around 150 of those proceeded to try to breach the fencing and to gain access to the site.


Photo: Ros Wills

The police statement continued:

“The A583 is currently closed while police deal with the protestors.

“Those engaged in the behaviour are largely thought to be from outside the area and not from the local protest groups.

“A significant policing response was required to prevent disorder while maintaining the right of those who wished to protest lawfully. This was done calmly and professionally by the officers involved.


Photo: Cheryl Atkinson

The statement added:

“No arrests have been made at this time, although an investigation will follow to identify any criminality.

“Our approach is always to ensure a consistent and coordinated policing response and ensure a balance between the rights of people to lawfully protest, together with the rights of the wider public, including local businesses, to go about their lawful activities.

“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but where it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.”

This statement was later corrected by Lancashire Police, which conceded that “a handful” of people got into the field. See DrillOrDrop report

Cuadrilla made a statement to the Blackpool Gazette:

“Organisers of the anti-fracking rally held at Maple Farm, Preston New Road, claimed they wanted a peaceful demonstration. This has been very far from the case.

“We have seen dozens of activists aggressively breaking through fencing to trespass on the local farmer’s land site causing damage to equipment.

“We have also seen distasteful intimidation at the local farmer’s home where he lives with his family.

“This is unacceptable, irresponsible behaviour which has resulted in road closure, disruption to the local community and landowner and the need for significant police force resource. The unacceptable face of anti-fracking activism is clear for all to see.”

Frack Free Lancashire criticised the police response. In a statement on 26 February, the day after the event, the group said:

“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.”

Mosborough-Marsh Lane march


Photo: Jeanette  Teare

Residents opposed to INEOS Shale’s plans to drill an exploration well at Marsh Lane walked around four miles from Mosborough, through Eckington, to the proposed site.

The organisers told the Sheffield Star that significantly higher numbers than expected turned out at Eckington.

They said they had hoped 200 people would join the march but they lost count at 350. By the end, the number was estimated at more thay 400.


Jeanette Teare

One of the organisers, Sarah Vause, told the paper:

“Everybody’s got a right to their opinion, and we had the right to stage a peaceful protest today”

Dorking demonstration against drilling


Photo: Jon O’Houston

In Surrey, about 20 campaigners against plans to drill for oil near the Leith Hill beauty spot marched through Dorking.

The drilling site, at Bury Hill Wood, has permission and the developer, Europa, is currently negotiating with Surrey County Council over planning conditions.

Opponents have occupied the site and have been organising events every Saturday. A possession order was granted in the High Court to Europa last month.

Updated to include Lancashire Police correction of statement and link to a DrillOrDrop post on this subject




48 replies »

    • How many came because of claims of poisoned water, toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, tumbling house prices, and health impacts? How many were aware that Friends of the Earth (one of the main disseminators of false information) were unable to provide evidence for any of those claims when I challenged them? Maybe there were meetings where cleverly produced scaremongering film conned the local people?

      Apart from being poorly supported nationally, I think sensible people are seeing through the sham science of this anti frack nonsense. If its so bad, why is it supported by all of the engineering, health, and geological bodies, and the water companies? Have they all been bribed by the evil Tories?

      • Good point. Most people came because they thought they are saving the world and the environment. But in fact they are mostly helping coal burning gas import and nimby agenda.

      • Fracking has no place in modern day life!
        Like nuclear the aweful toxic byproducts can not be safely reprocessed!
        They are a timebomb waiting to explode!
        Before it’s too late!

      • But Ken they provided copious evidence and the ASA did not make a ruling on your claims did they? Or did I miss it?

        Talking of your campaigns what happened with your attempts to get Mike Hill silenced? That didn’t go well did either did it?

  1. Look pretty thin turn up number for Lancashire protest. It’s not even covered in the local press. I guess the wider community is getting tired of the bs disruption the mob and thuggish protesters put them through.

  2. If you can head count in that photo by PNRG you would say no more than 150 people. You may be reaching a bit to claim 250. But no way 500. Pretty damn small and disappointed turn out for a national event. Democracy in number.

  3. Car parks full, people turned away because world of water wanted customers to be able to park, understandably!! Some parked at B and Q and walked down. Lots of support from local people honking!! We couldn’t stay long sadly, didn’t want to leave, inspirational people and such fun! People coming and going during 3 hours, local community coming together!! Local press supported by cuadrilla?? Surprise!!

  4. And the water blessing mentioned in the article I initially thought it meant the pissing down heavy rain Paul Tresto forecasted. I didn’t think it was that superstitious and cult-like family event.

  5. Definitely over 500 there may be more. I have the photos. The one shown is just part of the crowd by the stage. Even the BBC acknowledge that. Fantastic number of speakers from politicians, unions, businesses, residents. Messages of support on show from groups and celebrities not just in the UK but from around the world. People on here trying to play it down for obvious reasons. They know opposition is strong and growing.

  6. Pro fracker Ken Wilkinson in his comment above has helpfully listed most of the reasons citizens in a democracy would expect a government that represented their views locally, rather than being in the pockets of giant corporations. Thanks Ken.

    [Moderator: Name corrected]

  7. Only six pfi’s here to protest? What a poor turn out!
    No free food, no companionship, no families and friends meeting up and enjoying the day here amongst the pfi’s is there? Just the usual sour sneers and bad temper, sniping at those who actually give a damn.
    We had a nice day, so good to meet nice people, even sad rent a mob efforts came to nothing, obviously they weren’t paid enough?
    It was a great day, getting to meet and greet people, it was a friendly chatty atmosphere, local businesses did well, and people welcomed us.
    When will there be a pro rally? How many will turn up for that?

    • Did you get a water blessing from the lady organizer or the heaven Phil C. Surely this sort of event is great for community spirit but for all its intents and purposes they only serve the agenda of a wider interest of commercial company and State. In these cases they are coal, opec Scotland offshore oil drilling and renewable subsidies and nimby agenda.

    • There has BEEN a pro rally – a national event at Blackpool Football Cub with supporters who could be bothered bussed in from different parts of the country (that’s Lorraine and a couple of her friends). It was suported by an email campaign and boasted military style organisation with a parade commander on the day. It attracted about 40 people, some of whom were said to have been promised cash to attend. The fact that they have so little self-awareness that they try to mock an event which was attended by several hundred is really quite telling.

      I was told that there were 150 car parking spaces at WOW – I brought 4 other people with me in my car, but lets say an average of just 2 per car. That would make 300. There were coaches, people parking as far away as B&Q and people came on public transport. I’d say 500 was an underestimate. The police themselves claim 250 of these later made their way up to the field. I’d left by that time as I had another pre-arranged commitment, but the footage seems to show that to be true.

      But actually it doesn’t matter how many exactly might have been – it was an electrifying event with great attendance and massive support from those going past on the road, so no wonder the handful of industry sockpuppets here are trying to undermine it.

      It must be quite scary for them to see such a graphic illustration of the yawning gap between support and opposition in this country.

  8. Why on earth would there be a “pro rally”??

    Some of us are quite content to let those who have taken a great deal of time to obtain legal permission to proceed, to actually do that. I suggest that having to have a rally that descends into an attack means there is certainly no need for a pro rally. You are doing our work for us.

    For a group who keep repeating that fracking will be a disaster and uneconomic, you seem to have a strange desperation to prevent that from being shown!

    Interesting the timing of this event. It must be realised that after next month the window for “peaceful” protest will be closed.

    Welcome back, PhilC.

    • Both the article and Barbara Richardson claimed there are at least 500 protesters turn out and that the is backed by media like the BBC. But the BBC website state about “250” turn up.


      That is poor and disappointed upport for a well organized national event funded and promoted by big organization like the Green party Friend of the Earth Green Peace.

      • I was there and the people numbered over one thousand. . We said NO . Fracking ,Undergrouind Coal Gasification and Coal bed methane Extraction has not been performed safely anywhere in the world. The BBC trivialize it and do not report accurately on fracking issues they are a tool for this government which is owned by the oil and gas industry. We still had lots of support from motorists who had been kept waiting , as we do daily by the roadside . If fracking was safe why would the government and the shale gas industry need to lie about it and pay PR companies millions to lie and obfuscate . If it was safe and ethical it would sell itself

        • I thought two thousand? Any advance on two thousand? Huge rally. The Government will take notice! The electorate will vote them out – just like in Copeland oops – I thought the majority were against a pro fracking Government?

        • Eliza. You are not telling the truth. The pictures tell the story. The BBC tells the story. The police statement tell the story. The BBC is anti fracking and never like the Tory so they are not what you vlaim.

          • Dear oh dear! What Astonishing Hypocracy! Are you seriously advocating banning such acts as The Boston Tea Party? The American War of Independence? the Black Rights movement? the Suffragette and Women’s Emancipation and Right to Vote movement? The Anti War in Vietnam movement? The Anti Nuclear Proliferation Ban The Bomb movement? The Berlin Wall movement? (soon coming to a wall near you in Mexico) The Black Lives Matter movement? the Anti Trump/Anti Clinton/Anti Obama movement?
            Perhaps you would like to mow people down in your car and claim they were protesters of something or other? Death Race 2017 anyone? Extra points for little old ladies! Apparently this has all ready been applied here, and the police did nothing!
            What are you going to do next, bomb civilian hospitals because they may contain a protester or two?
            Insanity is rife in the world, but USA takes the cookie and doesn’t even respect its own history, let alone the rights of its own citizens.
            Are you seriously condoning this insanity?

            • Wow, Phil. Really got you going with that, did I? ;o)

              First of all, please check your spelling. The shock value for a word such as “Hypocrisy” is much higher when it is spelled correctly! ;o)

              I believe that all people have basic rights, and I believe that these protesters are violating many basic rights of others. They have simply occupied someone else’s property without any permission to do so. They are trashing the property and creating a nuisance for people in the area. Protesters have issued threats to workers. They have blocked roads. They are trying to intimidate local businesses. They are trespassing in areas where they have not been invited.

              Indeed, the word “Hypocrisy” is much more aptly applied to these “protectors,” Phil. I don’t see them protecting anything, and I do see them threatening some basic rights of others.

              Have a great day!

              • Talk to the spell checker cos the keyboard ain’t listening! Heavens, an american teaching us spelling? Whoooo! Its aluminium by the way not aluminum, its missile, not missle, its a hundred AND one, not one hundred one, its ZED, not zee!
                Its hypocracy in my UK English spell checker, though I see its hypocrisy in some dictionaries, but not all? hypocrisy is sooooo wrong! It looks and feels wrong too, Mandela effect perhaps! Oh yes, its herbs, not ‘erbs!!
                I don’t mind anyone having their own set of ethical or moral values, what tees me off is one autocracy forcing anti constitutional restrictions on others because it cant bear being criticised and giving themselves rights to run people over just because they disagree with them!
                Even you have to see that is insanity?

                • Kind of like the 250 people at the “national” anti-fracking rally, trying to dictate policy to the 11.3 million who voted to support the Conservative platform, right Phil? Oh, but I forgot! According to you, the Conservatives didn’t have anything about shale gas in their platform. ;0)

    • Ha ha! Love to set you all off with some well placed hooks and barbs, just sit back and watch the fun!
      I’m still here just doing a tour and talking to people, lots of invitations to see more of the locations in question.
      I haven’t met one sour person in the demonstrators yet, all remarkably upbeat, what i find is being welcomed and its whole families all together.

      The only ones worried were from some sourpuss looks from the inside of the razor wire cages. Even the police were smiling at some of the jokes.
      Then I look at this site and all is sour and derisive from the pfi’s, you really should get out more?
      You should have a rally, you will meet like minded people, free exchange of food, meet families and friends, get out of the frack farm agency for a while. You may even get a smile from behind the razor wire cages? Perhaps you could walk slowly in front of public cars and lorries and get arrested just to experience the ambience and enjoy the view from another sort of cage?
      It might be fun!
      Seriously, as I said before several times the pfi’s really must meet the protesters in a free and open discussion, not anonymous sniping from behind the virtual razor wire, but face to face, honest free and frank, lets do it while we still can?

        • Tuche mon brave! Have at thee varlet! Actually I was thinking more along the lines of a bottle or two of wine and cakes, but hey! If you are into that sort of thing I am sure we can accommodate you, but no black candles please!
          Fizzy or flat?

            • More whine reverend? We have California black gusher, from the left bank of the Aliso valley, we have Dakota yellow, a fortified vintage, piped from the Canada shale sand vineyards, we have a nice little Japanese. Plutonium Rad from the Fukushima region, now exporting throughout the Pacific and USA, and our speciality Razor Wire caged, a little sharp, a police favourite. We have rock cakes, good for throwing, frack cakes, good for nothing, shale gas cakes, good for leaving where they are, troll cakes, good for a laugh, shill cakes, good for being shilly, and last but not least over baked carbon footprint cakes, each with the impression of a frackboot, good for carbon credits but little else.
              Go on, spoil yourself!

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