Lancashire fracking protestors arrive at court
A retired midwife, an ex-soldier, a costume designer and 7 friends tell magistrates their peaceful fracking protest was reasonable
Ten volunteers, from areas facing fracking across the UK, are appearing at Blackpool Magistrates Court from today (Wednesday 1st November), after they peacefully protested fracking at Preston New Road in Lancashire in May.
The five men and five women, including a retired midwife, a supported housing manager, a yoga teacher trainee, a business analyst, a retired soldier, a mechanic and a film costume designer, felt they had to make their objections to fracking heard.
Along with hundreds of other volunteers, Gillian, Liz, Helen, Jeff, Jane, Barrie, Peter, Hamish, James and Abi have campaigned against hydraulic fracturing for years, in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Manchester, Norfolk and beyond. They thoroughly researched the fracking process, read proposed fracking licenses, shared information with others through leaflets and events, signed petitions and contacted councillors and MPs about their concerns.
Feeling that there was no social license for fracking at Preston New Road, but that democratic processes were being ignored and the worries of local people not being taken seriously, they decided to take part in a peaceful protest at the fracking site. They safely linked their arms inside boxes painted yellow, the shared colour of resistance to fracking, which were also adorned with Lancashire roses. The peaceful action created a strong visual image of defiance and showed solidarity with the hundreds of other individuals, and groups like the Anti-fracking Nanas, Preston New Road Action Group, Roseacre Awareness Group and Frack Free Lancashire, who have given up their time to campaign against fracking ever since the temporary ban in 2011.
Gill, a film costume Textile Artist, from Blackpool, said:
“I first became aware of fracking because it was starting to happen in my hometown of Blackpool. I did my research and didn’t find it to be a proven and safe industry. I didn’t feel happy with the proximity to the town or the industrialisation of the countryside. I believe there are cleaner and safer alternatives such as wind, tidal and solar which would be a good alternative.”
Liz, a Supported Housing Manager from Preston, said:
“I am local and am concerned that once they have fracked, we will be living with the consequences forever. I have been campaigning to stop fracking for over five years now. I have delivered leaflets, run stalls to raise awareness, and got involved with activities to highlight the issue of fracking, such as community get-togethers. I have written to local councillors and MPs and I was outside Lancashire County Hall to celebrate when our council said No to the fracking companies.
“I worry that once we have opened this Pandora’s box of fracking, we will not be able to sort out the issues left behind. I worry that fracking will cause Lancashire to lose work opportunities, tourism, farming and what was, until recently, a growing green economy.”
Helen, a yoga teacher trainee from Wigan, which is licensed for fracking, and whose family live near Preston New Road, said:
“Fracking will lock this country into decades of unsustainable, dirty fossil fuel dependence at a time when the exact opposite needs to occur. Our country has abundant natural resources that could adequately supply the UK with clean, renewable energy whilst safeguarding the environment for future generations. The industry (and Government) seems to be choosing to ignore this, just as they are refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming opposition to fracking within affected communities.”
Jane, a retired midwife from Scarborough, just 20 miles from the Kirby Misperton fracking site, said:
“I acted in solidarity with other people who have peacefully protested fracking, but also acted for my own personal beliefs too. I believe fracking is irresponsible, risking the environment for profit.”
“I live just outside Scarborough in the North York Moors, an area that could be directly affected by fracking. As a National Park, this area should be protected. I was one of thousands who wrote to the planners rejecting fracking at the Kirby Misperton site. However, it has been given the go-ahead unfairly and undemocratically.”
Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:
“The government is blocking its ears to the rising voices asking them to stop backing fracking, but ordinary people like Gill, Liz, Jane and Helen are making that increasingly difficult. The Conservative manifesto said fracking would only continue with public support, but their own opinion polls show support for fracking is at a record-low, with more than twice as many people opposing it as supporting it.
“With fracking now banned or blocked in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Westminster government is isolated. Their own plans show that fracked gas is an irrelevance for UK energy security. Greenpeace is standing with all the brave and dedicated local people who will continue to protest peacefully until ministers realise they would do better to ditch fracking and focus on clean, affordable and popular offshore wind, solar and tidal power instead.”
Photographs of the peaceful protest, which took place on 3rd May 2017, are available here:
Photographs of Gillian, Liz, Helen, Jeff, Jane, Barrie, Peter, Hamish, James and Abi taken outside Blackpool Magistrates Court on the first day on the trial, Wednesday 1st November 2017, will be available from this link on 10.30am on Wednesday 1st November.
Interviews are available on request.
Alexandra Sedgwick, Press Officer, 07773 043 386, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenpeace UK Press Office, 0207 865 8255, 07500 866 860, email@example.com