Three women councillors from Lancashire are taking part in a lock-on protest against operations at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool.
Along with 10 other Lancashire residents, they locked themselves to heavy objects at 3am at the Preston New Road site.
The protest is designed to stop vehicles entering the site where opponents expect the drilling rig will be delivered soon.
People opposed to Cuadrilla’s proposals have protested outside the site since work began in January. The company’s plans were refused permission by Lancashire County Council just over two years ago. But the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, gave the go-ahead to the scheme, following the recommendation of a planning inspector at a public inquiry.
Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding, one of the councillors taking part in today’s protest (above), said:
“It’s abundantly clear that when it comes to fracking, local councils have been rendered weak and helpless. I feel I need to be here with the community to say that we won’t roll over and accept this. We are putting our bodies on the line because our voices haven’t been heard.”
Fylde Borough Councillor for Warton and Westby, Julie Brickles, (above) said:
“I’m sometimes called the anti-fracking councillor. I strongly disagree with this: I’m the pro-community councillor and Westby is my community. Residents are rightly scared and we have now run out of options.”
Kirkham Town Councillor, Miranda Cox , (above) said:
“When your community and family is threatened, you are often left with little choice but to take direct action. As a councillor and member of this community, I have been left with no more alternatives.
“I feel our way of life locally is under attack by an industry that, backed by a distant central government, is seeking to turn Fylde and Lancashire into the largest gas field in Europe. I cannot stand by and allow this mass industrialisation to happen.”
Retired civil servant, Nick Danby, who lives in Inskip, (above) said:
“I believe that the imposition of fracking on our communities is unfair and unjust and it makes a mockery of local democracy. I have never been inside a courtroom before but, having exhausted all other legitimate means of resistance, I now feel that I have no choice but to continue my protest in the only way left available to me.”
Today’s protest is part of what has been called a “Rolling Resistance” month of action by Reclaim the Power, a UK-based network opposed to fracking.
At 9.20am, Lancashire Police posted on Twitter:
“A583 Preston New Road – Please be aware the is a contraflow in place due to campaigners “locked on” at the entrance to the Fracking site. Temporary traffic lights have been implemented and short delays are expected throughout the day.”
Lancashire Police said Gina Dowing, of Lancaster, Nicholas Danby, Miranda Cox and Julie Brickles, of Preston, Nicholas Sheldrick, from Blackpool, Catherine Jackson, from Fleetwood, Daniel Huxley-Blythe and Jeanette Porter of St Annes, and Barbara Cookson, of Liverpool, were charged with obstructing a public highway and offences under Section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act.
DrillOrDrop invited Cuadrilla to respond to the protest. This post will be updated with any further developments and comments.