A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 shouted “Cuadrilla go home” at a climate rally outside the company’s fracking site near Blackpool today.
Anti-fracking and climate change action groups, trades unions and political parties from across the UK took part in a march from Maple Farm along Preston New Road to the site entrance.
They were joined by the three climate protesters who were freed from prison on Wednesday (17 October 2018) by the appeal court.
Richard Roberts, Rich Loizou and Simon Roscoe Blevins, had been imprisoned last month after being found guilty of causing a public nuisance when they climbing onto lorries delivering to Cuadrilla’s site.
Piano restorer, Richard Roberts, called for a war-time effort to scale up renewables and insulation. He said:
“We want Britain to be not just frack-free but gas free. It is totally possible.”
He encouraged opponents of fracking to shut down Cuadrilla’s site, where fracking began on Monday (15 October 2018). He told the crowd:
“You are taking direct action and you are shutting down a fracking site right now. That’s how easy it is.”
Teacher, Rich Loizou, thanked people for supporting him and fellow protesters when they took part in their action in July 2017. He said:
“I got up on that lorry with no food, no water and no idea frankly.”
He said people had offered blankets, hot food and drinks, enabling him to carry on with his action. He called for support for local protesters across the country.
Simon Roscoe Blevins thanked Lancashire for showing the country how to fight fracking.
The former climate diplomat, John Ashton, said the three freed men “deserved a medal, not a criminal record”:
“I never thought my country would take its finest young people and make political prisoners of them because that’s what you were for three weeks.
Mr Ashton said the government and oil and gas industry had thought campaigners would become tired, scared and would go home. He said:
“I bet they thought they’d won. We’ve got news for them. We’re not going any where today, tomorrow or as long as Cuadrilla are in that field.”
“You cannot fix the climate and frack for shale gas at the same and you have to choose. The people of Lancashire have already chosen to fix the climate.”
The former Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, said he had chosen to come to the rally, rather than the march in London for a people’s vote on leaving the EU. He said:
“Leaving the EU is nothing to the existential threat to humanity of climate change
“The most important reason to oppose fracking at this site is that fossil fuels must stay in the ground.”
The deputy head of the Green Party, Amelia Womack, said:
“It’s rank hypocrisy that politicians who supported the suffragettes are currently criminalising peaceful protest.
From the draconian use of injunctions to the wrongful imprisonment of three anti-fracking activists, a sustained attack on the right to protest is making it harder and harder for people to stand up for what is right.”
Lawyer Estelle Dehon, who has represented campaigners opposed to fracking in legal challenges, said:
“I know there have been deep disappointments and there may be more with the law.
“But I firmly believe that the law realises that climate change is an existential threat. There will come a day when the law says no to fossil fuels.”
Lancashire campaigner, Tina Rothery, said however many people were arrested, fined or imprisoned the opponents of Cuadrilla would not go away:
“Not only will we not go, we will keep on inviting all these lovely friends of ours. Get used to us because we will be here until you go.”
David Kesteven, chair of Eckington Against Fracking, said Ineos may have won a public inquiry to secure permission to explore for shale gas at Marsh Lane in Derbyshire.
But he said:
“They are going to have walk through us and they have absolutely no chance.”