Lancashire Police confirmed today it was investigating a complaint that a security guard assaulted an anti-fracking protester outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool.
The incident allegedly happened yesterday (Tuesday 4 July 2017) at the Preston New Road site, where drilling is expected to begin imminently.
It came at the end of a 35-hour blockade of the site by a local woman, Michelle Martin. She had been part of a 13-person lock-on protest which began early on Monday morning and involved three Lancashire councillors. See DrillOrDrop report
The action had been organised by Reclaim the Power, a national group which is organising a month of protests against fracking
A spokesperson for the group said the demonstrator allegedly assaulted was restrained in a headlock and punched, then pinned to the ground by security guards.
The spokesperson said another protester was trapped in a car door and others were pushed into the road or tackled on the ground.
Reclaim the Power alleged that the incident took place on the public highway, not on private land leased to Cuadrilla.
Ellen Gibson, from the group, witnessed the incident and described the response of the security team as “totally disproportionate, violent and unnecessary”.
“While security guards may be allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to eject someone from private property; punching demonstrators in the face whilst pinning them to the ground on a public road amounts to assault.”
Lancashire Police told DrillOrDrop
“We are aware of a complaint of assault against a security guard and an investigation is underway.”
A spokesperson said she was not aware of any other complaints by protesters or security guards.
In a statement, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said:
“Our security team are used to dealing with a number of protestors, most of them peaceful, on a daily basis. However on this occasion, the protestor became aggressive.
“We understand that the protestor was appropriately restrained and then handed over to Police, who were present throughout the brief incident. The matter is now in their hands and we will assist them in any investigation which follows.
“Since the incident, the employee concerned and his family have been subjected to unacceptable harassment and intimidation, which is also under investigation by the Police.
“Cuadrilla does not tolerate any behaviour which puts our employees, our contractor or law abiding members of the public at risk. Our security team and the Police are trained in dealing with protestors and are committed to ensuring that situations such as this are dealt with in the correct way.”
Car blockade over concerns about fracking near nuclear plant
Reclaim the Power said six campaigners from south west England today locked themselves to a car and other heavy objects to prevent access to the Preston New Road site.
They said they were protesting at Cuadrilla’s plans to frack five miles from the Springfields nuclear fuel production plan.
One of the group, Nikki Clark, said:
“Fracking is dangerous and unnecessary. And fracking near a nuclear site is just madness.
“We all know that fracking causes tremors and earthquakes. If Preston New Road is allowed to go into full production, 60 wells will be sunk in close proximity to an active nuclear facility with tonnes of waste at risk of release into the open air. That is clearly not acceptable – we can’t frack with nukes.”
“Cuadrilla have been trying to stop our legitimate protest with disproportionate and unnecessary violence. We are defying that to demand an end to extreme energy sources like fracking and nuclear power. Renewables can provide the jobs and clean power we need in Lancashire and the UK.”
A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said:
“I can confirm that the protestor activity is having no impact on our current operations and the conductor casing work continues.”