“Police and judges should take a firm line with anti-fracking protests against shale gas suppliers” – union


A E Yates headquarters in Bolton. Photo: Dave Ellison

The pro-fracking GMB union said today it had written to political leaders urging them to make sure the police and judiciary took “a firm line” with protesters that targeted shale gas suppliers.

The union, along with the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, called for the protection of rights of people working in the emerging shale gas industry, while respecting the rights to peaceful protest.

In a press release about the letter, the GMB referred to plans for two weeks of direct action against supply companies, announced by Reclaim the Power, which opposes fracking and other fossil fuels. The action is scheduled to start next week on Monday 27 March 2017.

Stuart Fegan, the GMB national officer, said:

“Nobody should deny people’s right to lawful and peaceful protest but, equally, protestors should not be allowed to prevent workers from getting to and from their jobs just because they disagree that the workers’ employer has decided to legally explore the opportunities that the new onshore shale gas industry brings. “

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the chamber of commerce said:

“Whilst we agree that protestors should have their fundamental rights to peaceful and lawful protest protected, we believe that our police and judiciary must act to ensure that the rights of companies to go about their lawful business are similarly safeguarded, and are calling on our elected representatives to help make sure that’s the case.”

Opponents of Cuadrilla’s operations in Lancashire have said police have prevented them from carrying out “slow-walking protests” in front of vehicles delivering to the company’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

There have also been complaints that police have targeted particular protesters, usually young men and women, for arrest.

Frack Free Lancashire described the initiative as an attempt to “create further division within our community and to render legitimate protest even more difficult.”

The GMB press release said there had already been “weeks of harassment and intimidation” against businesses supplying Preston New Road. It said a group had blockaded a concrete supplier in St Annes, preventing the business from making deliveries to Cuadrilla and other unconnected customers.

The press release continued:

“The targeting of supply chain companies like this is reminiscent of tactics used by animal rights extremists.”

The press release said the letter had been signed additionally by East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, Downtown in Business, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, IoD Lancashire, FSB Cumbria and Lancashire, the Community union and GMB Union.

DrillOrDrop asked the GMB press office for a copy of the letter and details of which political leaders had received a copy. The union’s press office has not responded to our request. This post will be updated with any reply.


A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“Frack Free Lancashire is perplexed by this new initiative. If protectors are acting outside of the law, then there is already provision for the police and judiciary to take whatever line they feel appropriate within that same law.

“If, as we believe, actions taken by protestors relating to companies within Cuadrilla’s supply chain have been lawful then this would appear to be yet another desperate initiative from the usual suspects to create further division within our community and to render legitimate protest even more difficult.

“If these bodies really cared for Lancashire they would be better off spending their time lobbying central government to provide funding for the policing of peaceful protests brought on by the imposition of this industry on a local community who said “No!” through their elected council.”

20 replies »

  1. One of my favourite quotes about UK gas supplies came from a GMB official last year….

    Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said:

    “Britain needs gas……carting gas across oceans is not good from the environment and not good for security of supply in the UK. …..Given we will need gas to heat our homes and power industry, the question is therefore where are we going to get our gas from. We are increasingly going to be dependent on regimes fronted by henchmen, hangmen and headchoppers for the gas we need. That isn’t ethical and is surely an abdication of our environmental and moral responsibilities.”

    Good to hear they’re still on the case, hope they can influence the union reps who opposed Egdon’s conventional drilling at Wressle.

    • “We are increasingly going to be dependent on regimes fronted by henchmen, hangmen and headchoppers for the gas we need.”

      The very reason we can object and they cannot, is that we are not yet in that hateful category.
      There is no energy security in onshore shale gas extraction, it is a short term profit motive only and will not produce anything other than the same sort of exploitative regime here.
      Invest in renewables, shale gas will quickly pass away, renewables are the only energy security that will produce a pollution free future for us all. Fracking will produce the same evil regimes here, that you mention, it is all ready doing so right now, its the only way such gross exploitation can force itself on us. That’s not energy security, its energy suicide.

      • Renewables may be relatively pollution free but unfortunately their output (at least solar and wind) is weather driven rather than demand responsive. The Grid is having to purchase a demand turn-up (DTU) service to run from March to October next year. In other words in order to keep the voltage steady on a windy, sunny day when we generate more renewable electricity than we need, businesses are being paid to use more…. brilliant. That of course is the parallel to the sums paid to fossil fuel stations to cover cold, dark, windless days in winter when renewables (at least solar and wind) produce almost no output when we need it most. So we might reduce pollution by increased use of renewables but at the cost of massive energy shortages.

        It’s also worth remembering that gas is a much more efficient heat generator than electricity generally so if we are going to replace gas central heating with electric heating we will need to generate at least three times the electricity we currently generate, then there’s the extra electricity we’ll need for electric cars. Widespread use of battery technology will be an advance of course but widespread adoption is still years away.

        Like it or not you’re going to need a back-up source, hydro, wood chips, nuclear, coal or gas. France I think has the cleanest energy in Europe and they are about 75% nuclear, 20% hydro and 5% other. Make your choice.

  2. By the way when it comes to “Reclaim the Power” the principal power being reclaimed by those opposing onshore O&G exploration is that of Mr Putin and the afore-mentioned middle-eastern regimes over our gas supplies. Personally I think the risks of fracking (and with any industry there will be risks) are far outweighed by the possible benefits in terms of energy security and displacement of coal as a back-up fuel for electricity supply.

  3. Unions are public enemy number one as far as this government is concerned. Strange how they change their tune now. They’ll still turn on the GMB when it suits them.

  4. The GMB is a union apart and is corrupt to the core. Their worst badge of shame was to ignore voilence by their members against detainees at immigration centres. They are playing a key role in trying to oust Corbyn and would recruit in the Gestapo if it brought in more money.

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