Yesterday I had the privilege of being able to take part in the anti-fracking demonstration at Preston New Road in Lancashire as part of a month of rolling protest organised by the Reclaim the Power group. I have no pictures for the day as I don’t have permission to show the people that were there.
This what the protest is against:
In view of the violence reports that have been pictured on social media recently. I was not quite sure what to expect when I arrived. So what did I experience?
First of all there were the locals. Ordinary people going to extraordinary lengths to stop mindless development, ‘the scraping of the bottom of the barrel of fossil fuels’ as I heard it so eloquently put.
The message from the site is very clear: NOT HERE, NOT ANYWHERE.
Most locals were active all day brandishing banners and signs to attract the attention of passing motorists. They come in their lunch breaks, after work, weekends, all day every day, whenever they can. With children, with friends, with passion. There were elderly and disabled people, housewives, young mothers, local councillors, all resting when necessary in garden chairs at the side of the road beneath yet more banners of protest, not only from themselves, but from environmental protest groups and other supportive organisations too numerous to mention.
Secondly, the colourful and tired looking ‘hands on’ activists of all ages who have come to support the locals, some of them camped at the road edge by a tower made of pallets and scaffolding poles. On the top of it a relay of young men with binoculars, are watching what is happening on the fracking site and giving advance warning of vehicles approaching to enter the site so that people can rally to the gates and confront the situation with direct action.
They are supported by an array of volunteers giving out food, working as legal observers, filming, making red felt roses to sell to raise funds, handing out free information on what to do if you got assaulted or arrested, collecting up litter and generally making a peaceful nuisance of themselves with police and security when necessary (They have also established a well-run support camp further down the road, but I did not get that far).
All of them are there for the long haul, continually putting themselves at known risk of violence from over zealous security guards/ police officers and potential arrest/criminal record for obstructing the gates of the site to prevent work taking place.
The police I saw yesterday were friendly but firm and ignoring the couple of individuals who seemed intent on goading them – ‘not in our name’ was the view of most other people I spoke to. I oserved only non-violent handling of protestors who heckled workers and slow walked to delay vehicles, but the videos on Facebook tell a different story about confrontations that had taken place earlier.
To date, despite the Tories overruling Lancashire County council, who had banned fracking, an ongoing court case means Cuadrilla do not yet have permission to frack at Preston New Road. They seem to be very certain that they will get it and have just applied to change what they do there
There is a public consultation about the proposed changes in place until 3rd August
I would encourage you all to take part in it
This could be the future if we fail to stop this nonsense: