Anti-fracking campaigners gathered outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool early this morning for the start of what was advertised as a mass camp and 48-hour blockade.
The event, called Block Around the Clock, is almost three years to the day that Lancashire County Council refused Cuadrilla’s planning application to frack at Preston New Road.
That decision was later overturned by the then Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid. In the second half of this year, the site is expected to carry out the first high volume fracking in the UK since 2011.
On the eve of today’s gathering, the actor and environmental activist, Dame Emma Thompson, praised opponents of the industry:
“You have shown amazing resilience in the face of extraordinary hostility and intimidation. The media often peddle a stereotype of activists as eccentrics who don’t represent ordinary people. But the truth is every opinion poll, even polls commissioned by the government, shows the public is overwhelmingly opposed to fracking.”
The latest data from a Government-commissioned quarterly survey puts support for fracking at 18%, compared with 38% for nuclear power and a record 85% for renewables.
Block Around The Clock has been promoted by the national environmental campaign group, Reclaim the Power. Milo Phillips, for the group, said:
“Today we’re celebrating and supporting local resistance to fracking, here in Lancashire and everywhere. With the climate crisis more urgent than ever, the last thing we need is new gas infrastructure that will lock us into dirty energy for decades to come. A rapid, just transition away from fossil fuels to renewables can create sustainable employment for local people while respecting the planet, unlike fracking.”
Claire Stephenson, of Frack Free Lancashire, said:
“Despite the PR bluster that has been continually spun from government and industry, peer-reviewed science has highlighted the inherent dangers associated with fracking. Local people voted no to fracking in 2015, but our decision was overturned by the Westminster government, exposing local democracy as a sham. We continue to stand in defiant, unwavering opposition to this industry: Cuadrilla has zero social license to operate in our communities and we will continue to peacefully demonstrate that.”
Cuadrilla declined to comment on the gathering.
The company has secured a temporary injunction against protests outside the Preston New Road site entrance and roads either side. A spokesperson said the injunction had not been breached because no traffic was blocked from entering or leaving the site.
Cuadrilla returns to the High Court in Manchester in July to defend the injunction against a legal challenge.