Campaigners used two scaffolding tripods to block the entrance to Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool this morning.
The action, which began at about 4.30am, was by members of the national group, Reclaim the Power, which coordinated a month of protests outside the site last summer.
Two people from Oxfordshire were suspended on harnesses from the tripods, while others were photographed carrying banners reading “Until We Win”, Not Here, Not Anywhere”, and “Keep it in the ground”.
Fylde Police said it had established a contraflow on the A583 outside the site and delays were expected throughout the day.
One of the campaigners, Louise Simpson, said:
“Fracking gas here in Lancashire or anywhere will only worsen the climate crisis at a time when we know all fossil fuels must stay in the ground. RTP will be here until fracking is no more.”
“Impacted communities – mostly poor, predominately in the Global South – are already enduring the effects of climate change from flooding, to drought, to more frequent and severe extreme weather events, leading to food insecurity and forced displacement.
“It is our responsibility to say ‘no’ to all new fossil fuels, as the local community here in Lancashire have done, and take direct action to ensure that ‘no’ is followed through.”
Henry Belcher, another member of the blockade, said,
“We take this action as a last resort, in solidarity with communities leading the resistance to fracking and wider fossil fuel extraction locally and globally.
“From fracking in Lancashire, to oil pipelines across North America, and coal mining from Colombia to Vietnam, local communities are saying ‘no’ to new fossil fuel infrastructure, but are systematically ignored by the fossil fuel industry, banks and governments who use violence to repress them.”
“Communities most proximate to fossil fuel extraction deserve a democratic say over how their land is used and how their energy is produced. There will be no climate justice without land rights and energy democracy. No climate justice without Indigenous sovereignty. No climate justice without global solidarity.”
Reclaim the Power is organising a national demonstration outside the Preston New Road on tomorrow (16 InMarch 2018).
The group said its Jig at the Rig event, from 8am- 6pm, was expected to attract hundreds of people.
Cuadrilla is currently drilling two horizontal wells at Preston New Road and is expected to begin fracking in the summer.
In a statement, Francis Egan, Chief Executive of Cuadrilla, said:
“We are aware that Reclaim The Power are holding a series of events tomorrow to protest outside our shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road. We hope that, unlike previous occasions, those involved behave responsibly and ensure that local residents and commuters are not inconvenienced by any road blockages and unlawful behaviour. Last July Reclaim The Power’s campaign caused lengthy road blockages which severely hampered local traffic, diverted significant police resource to keep the highways safe and resulted in nearly 100 activists being arrested, the majority coming from outside the county. We respect the right to lawful protest and ask Reclaim The Power to adhere to this and respect the right for local people, including our own employees and contractors, to go about their daily business without any hindrance.”
Lancashire Police said there were six arrests outside Preston New Road last month (February 2018), mainly for allegations of obstruction and public order offences. The total number of arrests since protests began in January 2017 now stands at 337. Of these 312 resulted in charges. There is no data on the number of prosecutions or convictions.
Lancashire Police said the total cost of policing the protests from January 2017-February 2018 was £6.58m