Police closed the road outside Cuadrilla’s Lancashire shale gas site for eight hours today in response to anti-fracking protests.
Opponents of the company’s activities at Preston New Road near Blackpool took part in a sit-down protest and climbed onto two vehicles as police tried to bring lorries into the site.
Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said the protest was “causing delay and misery” to commuters, visitors and businesses.
Frack Free Lancashire blamed today’s blockage on the police for escorting a convoy of vehicles and encouraging two lorries to occupy both lanes of the road.
The A583 Preston New Road was closed in both directions at about 8.30am, for more than two miles, between Whitehills roundabout and Fox Lane Ends.
At 5pm, police opened one lane and operated a contraflow. A post on the Fylde Police Facebook page said “campaigners remained on top of vehicles and in road”.
The national campaign group, Reclaim the Power, which has been co-ordinating a month of direct action protests at Preston New Road, said eight trucks had been blockaded.
Yesterday the group said there had been 16 consecutive working days of disruption outside the site.
“Apology needed for inconvenience”
Mr Egan said this was the fourth complete road closure in as many weeks. He said there had also been eight more partial road closures.
In a statement this afternoon he said:
“We condemn today’s ongoing closure of the Preston New Road by protestors since 8.30am this morning.
“No responsible person can claim this is peaceful or lawful protest when it is causing delay and misery to local commuters, businesses and people visiting the area during the holiday season.
“Far from boasting online about their illegal exploits, the national activists from Reclaim The Power should publicly apologise to all those road users that they continue to inconvenience due to their self-serving, publicity seeking and foolish actions.
“We will exercise our democratic right to carry on with our lawful work at Preston New Road which is progressing to plan.”
“Successful tactics against unwanted industry”
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:
“We understand Cuadrilla’s frustration at the successful tactics being employed against their attempts to impose this unwanted industry on the people of Lancashire.
“However, this morning’s total blockage would not have been required had Police not resorted to escorting a convoy and encouraging two HGVs to occupy two lanes, which was unsafe and inappropriate.
“We also note Mr Egan’s claim that his work is ‘progressing to plan’ but believe it has as much credibility as his repeated and misleading claims about the size of the well pad being the same size as a rugby pitch.”
Criticism of police
Police were criticised on social media by both sides of the argument.
In a comment on the Fylde Police Facebook page, Adam Saunders:
“Why are these people not being arrested on the spot? I’m pretty sure if average joe had a few to many beers got on a wagon and hurled abuse at you…. They would be arrested?”
Phil Cardwell said:
“You are failing in your duty to the people of the Fylde Coast that you are supposed to serve. Allowing anarchists to blockade a blue light route. How much more do we have to take? Get the road open NOW!”
Dan Tudor-Pole said the police should edit their Facebook post from “due to protester activity” to “due to Cuadrilla activity”. He said:
“These people are doing the right thing and stopping this dirty industry form taking place in the Fylde. This is the first drill pad of many, the Fylde will be absolutely covered in them if Cuadrilla and co get their way. We said NO.”
Claire Stevo said:
“Why is there an HGV straddling two lanes? How did it get there? Cuadrilla have no right to commandeer an entire road. Convoys were not part of the original traffic plan.”
Sorry refracktion, don’t read blogs-self indulgent twaddle normally, that massages the writers ego from size of the audience. I’m sure (?) yours is different but I have a life to live.
Talking of which, lithium explorers shares are on the rise-wonder why? All we need now, is a cost effective way of generating the electricity to supply into the vehicles. Oh, the “light” has suddenly shown me the way, flashing away and pointing the direction along Blackpool front . Perhaps little old BMW has seen the same light-although, if they get caught within the cartel charge there could be some projects that get cancelled. Perhaps they will turn whistleblower (like a certain German airline) and avoid the costs.
Sorry martin, we don’t read blogs-self indulgent twaddle ever, that massages the writers ego from size of the audience. I’m sure (!) yours is no different and we have a lives to live.
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Martin – It doesn’t really bother me whether you read my blog or not – By providing you with the link I was only demonstrating that your self-congratulatory post was as off-target as usual. Don’t look at anything that might tilt your own confirmation-bias – it will only make you uncomfortable 😉
Cuadrilla don’t have a democratic right to frack. Local people said no and the council said no. The, now minority, government overturned the decision. This is not democracy. The protectors are now using their legal right to protest against an undemocratic decision. The government promised localism, but Iocalism is effectively dead.
Sure they have a democratic right. Why should the majority government composed of Conservative and DUP voters not have their democratic voices heard, Alan? Highly undemocratic to take that away from them. National interests often trump local ones.
Sherwulfe-most fracking supporters are NOT investors. Small point, but one that shows your level of knowledge. How would you invest in Ineos or Barclays (yes, but not for Third Energy)? Would most investors invest in AJLucas to get a slice of Cuadrilla? Some might, most would look at the rest of AJLucas and have some doubts with the current Australian mining situation.
If you do not even have an awareness of why people would support fracking testing it may be of comfort to you, but not very enlightening to any who check the facts. Like nuclear energy generation in France.
“Energy security we already have”-really? That is such a give away, not even worth debating, but some will feel secure shipping fracked gas from USA to UK, I suppose. But then, the “control over energy costs” goes out of the window, together with minimising the carbon footprint.
At first I thought the antis were out to confuse the wider public, now it is apparent to me they are the ones who are confused.
Now, same trend is being followed concerning chlorinated washes for chickens. I know the full history of this, and will not bother you with it, but suffice to say, absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare, all to do with food hygiene, nothing to do with food safety and a lot to do with protecting the market for Europe’s largest producer of chicken meat, and why CAP is costing Europeans a fortune. Now for a pretty out of the box idea, after Brexit allow imports of chicken from USA that have been washed in chlorine and get the supermarkets to label accordingly. Then the consumer can chose rather than the EU-it’s called “taking back control”. Shame they will not be given the same information as to whether the chicken on the shelf has been slaughtered without stunning, because that is too sensitive, as it is when you buy chicken in a restaurant. Probably only way to mitigate against that would be to purchase the chicken from USA! (If you do bother to check in a restaurant, you may get a surprise, and then a lot of pseudo scientific nonsense as an attempt to justify their position, which takes us back to….?)
“But then, the “control over energy costs” goes out of the window” – er so you’d rather have “control” in the form of definitely higher prices then? Really? Sure you’d have certainty but it would be certain idiocy.
UK to ban desiel and petrol by 2040. So oil asset may become stranded in the future. Good for air quality. But this put a huge strain on the electricity generation which is already in a shamble.
Alan-the protestors are using their legal right to protest against a decision which is lawful. If they do it lawfully, fine, but the number of arrests show that not to be the situation. You view the decision as undemocratic, like I view many decisions as undemocratic because I, and others, would rather it be different. Then there is the option to take the legal route to overturn-oh, forgot, tried and failed.
TW-you missed a bit-cars and vans. But what about all those JCBs to help build the new gas (fracked?) power stations to generate the electricity?
Oh yes sorry. You know what I meant. It was in the news. What is JCB?
Just cars at present. But ships, planes, lorries, vans, agricultural machinery and the chemical industry still not in the picture. So oil will be about for a while yet.
Plus, as the topic here is fracking for gas, good news for gas producers I guess as well as a Siemens re gas fired power stations.
A type of digger, or excavator. You can add tractors etc. etc. Still be diesel used. And certainly in other countries. UK could become a larger oil producer and export the bulk eg. Norway, Saudi etc. Someone thinks so, Angus last week, UKOG this week. Maybe even rebuild Pluto (pipeline under the ocean) and send it across to mainland Europe-may be a little more secure for them than Russia. I suspect a certain someone would like to say something about UK oil production costs, but they will probably be out of date.
I am not saying gas is out of the pictures and I agree with all. Air travel is increasingly more frequent and oil will remain important. As the National Grid stated in their reports. With or without electric vehicles gas and nuclear power will be the main bases in the long-term and gas will be the choice of many nation and customers as a secured flexible and cost effective way for electricity and heating.
[Comment corrected at poster’s request]
TW-I agree with you, but I suspect there will be an increased reliance upon gas in the UK and lowering of the replacement of nuclear-the capital costs are huge, the electricity generated is expensive unless you are around in 50 years time, and then there is the decommissioning. If the public want an increase in electricity from alternative sources they really need an electricity base source that is economical, and this is gas (not the Greens extra insulation and a woolly hat.) Of course, the energy security of nuclear is a strong argument but not so if your gas is secure.