“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. Im all for this if it works both ways , lets see the police involved in illegal drilling and investor manipulation by O&G companies.

  2. The only arrests have been for obstruction. I wonder how this will be viewed in the future when the GMB will no doubt be taking direct action on other issues? I wonder if they will be wanting the courts and police to take firm action against their members then. Completely hypocritical.

  3. So, we see the strategy play out here, there have always been some interesting anomalies that the o&g industry have operated.
    The question why the industry targets the countries most remote beauty spots for example.
    The government sponsored police wrongful arrest and intimidation response escalating and hardening.
    The apparent industry contempt for any planning conditions TMP and jumping the gun before agreements have been agreed or finalised.
    Now we see the hollow reinstatement and reparation bond exposed as inadequate. The deliberate overturning of planning refusals and the removal of democratic representation.
    Then comes along a provoked response by ‘reclaim the power’ clearly a set up to promote and escalate a judicial response.
    I always remember that the industry leaves nothing to chance.
    That provocation is deliberate because it promotes the required response.
    So then we get this from the GMB union timed perfectly to divert attention from the all ready escalating pressure to prevent protest under all but innefective circumstances.
    Banning slow walking, intimidation be police kettling actions and targeted arrests, most of which are subsequently dropped.
    What does that reveal? A carefully planned and executed strategy, that is what is obvious to anyone who stands back and takes a good hard look.
    Shades of Tony Blair’s anti war protest strategy and Margaret Thatcher’s anti print union and coal strike strategies.
    The same strategy of problem reaction and solution, the Hegelian dialectic plain as day.
    Now do you see why I objected to the ‘reclaim the power’ actions, that was a press release, do you see why it was necessary to make a press release? Why not just do it silently? It was obvious, because it led straight to this move.
    Divide and conquer, go figure.

    • Michael Roberts said: “Excellent at least the GMB are pushing for good sense on the economic disruption of Lancashire”

      Super. Are they defending our £3.8 billion and rising tourism economy and tourism-dependent jobs from the inevitable impacts on visitor numbers and job losses that scaled-up shale gas development will bring?

      Who wants to holiday in the largest gas field in Western Europe?

      • A lot of people visit the Netherlands where the largest gas field in Europe is, which has been on production since 1963. But perhaps there were a lot more tourists in the Netherlands prior to 1963 (by your logic)? Of course the field has recently become famous (or is it notorious?) for earth tremors and production has been cut back.

      • It would be interesting to know what effect Wytch Farm (at one time Europe’s largest onshore oil field) had on tourist numbers. I’m willing to bet the answer was zero effect.

  4. Last month I was the first person to be arrested during a demo at AE Yates. Not only did I not commit a crime it is very clear to me that the government has instructed the police to step up their tactics to be more aggressive.
    four days ago I appeared at Manchester Magistrates court for a pre-trial charged with obstruction of the highway. This is not such a serious breach of legislation, yet when I first appeared at Bolton Magistrates court two weeks ago, it was deferred to a District Judge in Manchester for pre-trial review.
    I was arrested, cuffed and held in custody by the police for 11 hours, which seems to me like it’s being treated as a serious crime. Was even audio interviewed around 9-30am by an officer from the armed response unit.
    The level of effort and contrived information being put forward by Crown Prosecution and the police to convict me is a staggering overkill.
    I can’t mention half of it until after my trial on 15th May, and have been advised by a journalist friend to reflect on my response in discussing this on social media, but I have decided to do just this, and be open about the whole issue. At this moment in time I am frustrated and thinking of taking this to the press, to blow wide open the subversive restrictions that innocent people are under to be silent.
    So it seems like Police and judges are already taking a firm line with anti-fracking protests against shale gas suppliers” AE Yates even tried to attach lose of earnings for the day I was arrested onto me, for between £1000 and £6000. However the judge at the pre trial review decided it was not applicable and threw that part of the case out. Some people and maybe even the legal people say I should keep silent about my arrest and proceedings until after the trial on the 15th of May but I feel it is important to highlight this now, especial as I have no bail conditions on my case.

    However I do feel the restriction of expression against citizen journalists, evidence gatherers and the freedom of photojournalism may well be being targeted by the Conservative government. to help speed up the fracking agenda and silence witnesses to their increasing bad practice. It’s hard not to see this when the police and courts put so much effort into convicting someone who did not even commit a crime, or has done any harm to anyone.

    On reflection it is not just me; Live steamers, film makers and other photographers have told me that they feel more oppressed and restricted by the police, as intelligent visual and audio objections to this clearly rogue government are on the rise..
    In my opinion Theresa May and the Conservative party seem frightened of the level of serious peaceful challenge regarding their illegally forcing through the fracking agenda.
    The injustice and the dangers surrounding the hydraulic fracturing industry is peer reviewed and now outlawed in States of America and Australia. Sadly this is only after the damage to aquifers, land and peoples health. Do we have to wait until there are disasters before we stop the fracking industry?
    What I document are the many empowered individuals, groups and tribes of England that are using democratic lawful objection to stop this agenda.
    The people have the power, we always have. So lets use it to protect our land, water and future generations…

  5. [Edited by moderator] effort to prevent Communities legally protecting their children’s​future and the well-being of our established traditional businesses of farming and tourism!

    • Quiet isn’t it? What will be the next step in the strategy?
      Perhaps a false flag event such as the burning of the Reichstag? Never underestimate the thoroughness of the strategists involved.

  6. The only actually physical assaults have been carried out against Community Protectors, usually old folks or ladies!
    Carried out by Cuadrilla employees, Cuadrilla contractors or the Police!
    Caught on camera and witnessed!
    Still waiting to hear about any prosecutions!

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