Climate campaigners have used a yellow boat to block the entrance of Cuadrilla’s suspended fracking site near Blackpool.
The boat, painted with the words ‘Planet Before Profit’, aimed to draw attention to the global climate crisis, activists from Extinction Rebellion said this morning.
Fracking has been suspended at the site at Preston New Road since 26 August 2019 after operations caused a 2.9ML earth tremor which was felt across the area.
The site operator, Cuadrilla, has been visiting local homes where damage has been reported. The industry regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, is investigating the series of more than 120 tremors induced in less than a fortnight by fracking at the site.
A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion said in a statement:
“We are here to highlight the conscious, cynical inaction of the government in response to a climate and ecological emergency.
“We will stand with those communities which have tenaciously and peacefully resisted this for years, they have sought to defend against the threat fracking poses to their air and water, their health, their land, including their homes, as demonstrated by the recent tremors.”
The statement said the world must move away from a system dependent on fossil fuels.
“The constant drive of profit and accumulation for a tiny fraction of humanity has already impoverished and exploited billions and severely degraded our environment.”
“Climate change is a burgeoning catastrophe. We know to prevent this, we must leave more than 80% of existing oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground. Yet this government is determined to find and exploit new reserves, supporting the likes of Cuadrilla in their attempt to open up a new gas field spanning the North of England.”
Today’s action could breach an injunction against protests outside Preston New Road, granted to Cuadrilla in July 2018. Last week, three anti-fracking campaigners received suspended sentences after being in found in contempt of court. They were believed to be the first anti-fracking campaigners in the UK to be brought before the courts for breaching an injunction against protests.
Extinction Rebellion said today’s action was in support of the three campaigners. The statement also threatened further action:
“If the government continues to support fracking, then we will return, en masse, in alliance with each community and group, to clearly say enough is enough.”
“We owe it to future generations to act now”
A resident living near the site said today:
“Today’s action is to highlight the climate emergency that we are now facing. We need an urgent government response if we are to have any hope of avoiding climate breakdown. Tomorrow or next week may be too late.
“We must acknowledge and accept that the age of fossil fuels is over. We are blessed with enormous renewable resources and we have the technology to harness them. There is no excuse not to do so.
“We know and accept that there may be serious consequences for our actions today but we are very clear that the consequences of our inaction will be far, far worse and probably irreversible.
“We owe it to ourselves, our friends, our neighbours and our communities to act now. And most of all we owe it to our children and to future generations.”
“Not impacting on operations”
In a statement, Cuadrilla said:
“We are aware of an ongoing protest outside our shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, Lancashire, today. This is not impacting on our operations. We have no objection to peaceful, law abiding protest whilst recognising that our neighbours, motorists using the busy road and our staff and contractors should also be able to go about their business without disruption, inconvenience or intimidation.
“We would like to add that we are exploring for shale gas at Preston New Road to establish a domestic energy supply that the UK really needs.
“The Bowland Shale as a whole could be a very important resource for Lancashire and the UK and, whilst hydraulic fracturing is currently suspended, we would like to continue with our work to prove this.
“To reach net zero by 2050 the Committee on Climate Change is clear that the UK will need about 70 per cent of the natural gas that we are using today, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage for electricity and as a feedstock for the manufacture of hydrogen.
“Natural gas is recognised by the experts to be an important part of the solution. We intend to be a part of that solution in providing lower emission UK shale gas to replace higher emission imported gas whilst also generating local jobs and economic benefit.”