Lancs police use drones over Cuadrilla’s fracking site

180914 Lancs drone leaflet

Leaflets about drone operations around Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 14 September 2018

Lancashire Police said today it was using drones to film the area around Cuadrilla’s fracking site.

Leaflets distributed by the force to local homes said the use of drones was “in the interest of public safety” and part of the police operation covering the fracking site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

Cuadrilla has said it still expects to start fracking the first of two shale gas wells by the end of the month. This will be the first fracking operation in the UK since 2011 and the first fracture of horizontal shale gas wells.

The police leaflets said the drones were conducting essential aerial photography and video:

“Please be aware that police officer drone pilots will be in your area conducting essential aerial photography and video. This is in compliance with the civil aviation air navigation order regulations.

“The drone activity is in the interest of public safety and forms part of the police operation covering the fracking site on Preston New Road.

“Please be assured that we will continue to ensure a consistent and coordinated policing response and ensure a balance between the rights of people to lawfully protest, together with the rights of the wider public.”

“Scrutiny is alarming”

The leaflets prompted concern among opponents of Cuadrilla’s operation. A spokesperson for the Gate Camp community obervation post opposite the Preston New Road site said:

“For peaceful campaigners to come under this sort of scrutiny is both alarming and intimidatory. The method of monitoring is demonstrative of entirely disproportionate policing that would not be expected unless people were suspected of committing the most serious of crimes.

“We are law-abiding people, exercising our human rights to protest and are shocked by this latest chapter in the erosion of our civil liberties by Lancashire Police. Our worry is that the impending drone surveillance is designed to frighten people away and stifle our ability to raise safety concerns.”

A spokesperson from Frack Free Lancashire said:

“Today’s police drone notices which were posted through residents’ letterboxes, many of whom are also campaigners against fracking, appears to be yet another level of unnecessary policing that is unjustified and can only be for the benefit of the fracking industry.

“It also begs the question: who is paying for this additional surveillance? With police funding at an all-time low and no refunds are due to Lancashire Police from central government for the ongoing protest policing costs, where is the money coming from to add another intrusive level of police monitoring?

DrillOrDrop asked Lancashire Police how many drones would be used, when they were first deployed, why they had been introduced now and how the footage would be used.

The Force replied:

“Lancashire Police have secured the use of a drone to provide more accurate information on the fracking operation at Preston New Road.

“The birds eye view will enable us to assess the impact of things like traffic congestion and road closures on the local community and will enhance the safety of all concerned.”

18 months of protest

There have been almost daily protests outside the Preston New Road site since Cuadrilla began work in January 2017.

This week, an anti-fracking campaigner climbed onto a tanker outside the site around midday on 12 September and stayed up until about 3am on 13 September. He was arrested when he came down.

The latest police figures show 13 people were arrested in July 2018. This was an increase on June, when there were no arrests, but much lower than the 95 recorded in July 2017. This brings the total arrests to 364. There were 18 charges in July 2018, bringing the total to 345.

Lancs arrests Jan 2017 to Jul 2018

Updated 17/9/2018 with Lancashire Police response


51 replies »

  1. Perhaps the police can monitor the Cuadrilla goons having their Barbecue on site and security smoking ? Much more valuable information can be had within the site than outside.

  2. Recent threats to break the injunction, more recent breaking of same injunction. Looks as if the police intelligence is at work here. Keeping a step ahead.

    Hope they don’t send the drones up too early in the day. We know how the antis like to have a lie in.

    • The anti frackers do lie and twisted the fact. The local and environmental concerns are real and valid but some exaggerate these and what happens on site to push the scaremongering tactic and bigger political agenda. They claim the moral high ground of defender of young generation future but set very bad moral examples.

    • The injunction is nothing to do with the Police. They have told us that. The injunction is a civil law matter.
      which the police have said they will not give assistance to. Of course they could be being less than truthful.

  3. Political policing. Drones are to gather intelligence. The police are desperately trying to tip the scales towards the frackers, but they only end up highlighting the absurdity of forcing fracking on an awakening community. It rather suggests a corporatist police state more than a functioning democracy that values human rights. Who pays for the clean up after fracking? Who pays for the health impacts? We do. Who takes the profits (if there are any?) Not the long suffering community. We don’t even need the gas. The frontline has passed to Westminster now, as MPs including Conservatives line up to condemn government plans to make fracking permitted development and unnaccountable to locally elected councillors.

    • The activists have used drones at many of the exploration sites to monitor activities [edited by moderator at poster’s request]. Why is this acceptable but not for the Police who are doing it by the book?

      Ian, we had a local decision made by accountable NYCC councillors to allow fracking on the KM8 well at Kirby Misperton, yet you yourself along with support from outsiders tried to block and prevent this act of local democracy.

      Does this local democracy you speak of only count when it agrees with your beliefs?

          • There is, of course, a subtle difference between a civilian taking photos to keep a record of activities, and the state monitoring and recording events…..

          • There is no need whatsoever for a hobbyist drone pilot to let anyone know when or where they are flying.
            There is no need to be ‘licensed’ contrary to public (ignorant of the facts) opinion, and privacy laws are an absolute joke where drones are concerned – yet easily worked within with modern 4k technology.

            I will be interested to see how the police use the drones in a non emergency situation, how they keep their distance from people and I’d like to see members of the public request to see the operators PfCO certificate.

            I wonder what provision they have made for private drone operators to operate in the same vicinity.
            I’d like to see their risk assessment as well.

            Shame I’m not closer.

      • But just how local was the decision about KM8? How many of the members of the NYCC planning committee and who supported fracking represented Ryedale where KM8 is located? Thing the answer to that was a great big zero, if I remember rightly.

  4. I wonder if it the government and not most protestors that have a bigger political agenda: if it was just fracking, surely the government would have abondoned it long ago as the evidence is stacked against it as is the opposition. It is precisely because so many local people that are not your typical “hippy green protestors” are opposed to it that the government keep moving the goalposts and trying to centralise control, removing what little democratic accountability and oversight local people have for a highly misleading version of the “national interest”.

    • The current planning process is vulnerable to political pressure and actions from those whose aims are to delay and inflict excessive costs.

      The experts state that fracking is safe and there’s a lack of scientific evidence to support the activists claims.

      Local councils should have a say in the decision to ensure that the sites used are appropriate, but the refusals on invalid grounds often made to pamper to the demands of the traveling circus most stop.

      The current proposals are not perfect or agreeable to many, but it is clear to most that the system needs to change.

      • John Harrison, please refer to the List of the Harmed to learn of the damage inflicted by the fracking industry on people, livestock, farmland and water supplies in mature fracking locations over recent years.
        These are actual incidents not theory yet the Fylde is about to be turned into a fracking laboratory experiment with local residents the guinea pigs! The perpetrators and their facilitators are all on Notice of Liability for all and any harm done!
        Obviously you are industry and not resident in a PEDL area so please shut up!

        • The “list of the harmed” those who claim to have been harmed by hydraulic fracturing, supposedly in Pennsylvania (although many anti-drilling New Yorkers, where there is no fracking, also appear on the list).

          The list relies on people self reporting and posts links to articles from environmentalist activist sources of news, rather than scientific studies.

          The list is run by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, an antifracking campaign group.

        • Ahhh, I see the phrase “travelling circus” is starting to do the rounds since that ridiculous ministerial statement.

      • John Harrison they are not a travelling circus but very concerned residents would you want this 400 metres from your property. INEOS ex CEO said that there is no such thing as safe fracking all drilling has a risk and on unstable mine workings near a Primary School suicidal. Insurance Companies expect that residents will see a substantial increase in premiums in a zone 5 miles radius of the fracking field. Now tell me it’s safe “in their words if an explosion occurs on site”

  5. Fracking is a proven hazard to human health, drinking water supplies, tourism and farming industries and the Environment as a whole! Fracking is a major potential contributor to climate change along with the other fossil fuels that should be also be left in situ.
    Accordingly to force fracking upon unwilling Communities is nothing short of an act of Treason and no doubt be treated as such in time to come!

    • We need hydrocarbons at least through 2050; every sensible forecast shows that. Should be left in situ? You are not living on this planet if you don’t use hydrocarbons or their products.

      • Paul is correct, but it is the amount and source that is the problem, and the tardy governance’s approach to deploying safe energy for the planet. If we were at the point of reversal of current energy deployment so that fossil fuels were the minimum input and renewable the majority, there may be hope; pushing new sources of finite earth polluting fuel is speeding up the demise of the human race.

  6. Oh dear Peter!

    For those at PNR living within easy wind dispersal from Sellafield your comments are obviously selective. Think around two thirds might have noticed that and not been excited by it. I can quite understand your emotion regarding the subject but what I find interesting over the last six months or so most of the anti comment on here, and elsewhere, has been similar. Almost as if attempts to convert any of the two thirds has been ditched.

  7. Are you saying PNR is, Sherwulfe??? Are you telling me you are Mystic Meg???? Do you conveniently forget the precautionary principle?? Oh, how the antis can change their “philosophy” when needs must, when desperation sets in.

    And the 85%??? Have a look on Amazon. “85% also liked”, but it doesn’t change the reality of what the subject matter was. The majority, who have contact with such things on an every day basis realise this. Maybe it’s because they are on grid?

    By the way, what is the problem with others deploying ie. funding alternative energy? Your concept of government doing so means there is poor economics and you want the tax payer to pay. You could crowd fund! I suspect you would find the crowd pretty slim-even in Swansea.

  8. Dear Operation Manilla Team, Lancashire Constabulary.

    I see you have been posting leaflets for residents close to the PNR, Cuadrilla Fracking Site.
    The leaflet states if there are any concerns then to contact you so I have decided to write and request further information as to your drone flights.

    May I ask what drone or drones you will be using, and are they single or dual operator controlled? I see you state the drone activity will be in the interests of public safety forming part of your police operation, will these public safety flights include looking within the confines of the Heras fencing and notifying the public of any breaches of safety such as leaking fracking fluids escaping to the local water courses, ponds or fields for example?

    You say your flights are in compliance with the CAA and Air Navigation Order (2016).
    Would this include all operators being PfCO certified? – will there be ‘spotters’ and what redundancy safety measures do you have in place should the drone lose a propeller or battery malfunction for example over the road or people?
    What will be the minimum distance you will operate the drone to peaceful protesters? – as these flights are not emergency flights will you be keeping to 50m from people or persons not under your control? Are the operators certified to fly BVLOS, and is this a possibility?
    Will there be a clearly marked and secured take off and landing location, and emergency landing location if the main one is compromised?

    Do you have a specific risk management plan for the use of the drones at this location, and is it available to the public?
    Also, as you are aware members of the public also use drones at the location, what measures do you have in place to operate your drones in the vicinity of other possible drone pilots at the same time? Will you be using the NOTAM system or making the public aware of your flights.
    Do you plan to implement a ban on members of the public flying their drones responsibly and also operating within the CAA Regulations now you have advertised you will be flying there?

    I hope you can answer the above questions as fully as possible, as soon as possible so I can pass this information on to friends in the area that are not as ‘o fey’ with the operation of surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles.

    Many Thanks

  9. Looks like another expensive and embarrassing own goal for Lancashire Constabulary!

    Siding with the filthy frackers again against the community they are supposed to protect!

    Will be very interesting when the emergency injunction hearing is held in London this Wednesday! Wonder what the frackers and their backers shares are worth this week?

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