It’s been a very big week for a small Lancashire village

A fracking protest in Lancashire
Steve Topple

A small Lancashire village has had a rather busy week – with some big political hitters making a lot of noise over an ongoing saga.

Fracking in Lancashire

Preston New Road, near the village of Little Plumpton, is at the centre of a row over fracking. Cuadrilla has permission to explore the site for shale gas. But local people are against the company’s plans. And they have stepped up their protests since January 2017.

Campaigners are currently undertaking a three-month campaign called ‘United Resistance’, against Cuadrilla’s plans. And this week has been ‘Green Party week‘. The Canary chatted with Frack Free Lancashire, one of the campaign groups involved. It said of the past week:

We were blessed with wonderful weather and good numbers of visitors.

A very Green week

At the beginning of the week, campaigners were joined by Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack. She not only spoke at the roadside but also camped overnight at Maple Farm. Campaign group Global Justice Now’s director Nick Dearden was also there:

Then on Tuesday Andrew Cooper, a Green Party councillor from Kirklees, joined them:

Alongside them was former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett. She also camped overnight before speaking at the roadside.

On Wednesday, a demo called ‘Women in White Call for Calm’ took place. Frack Free Lancashire said:

It was good to see lots of new faces. Everyone had the opportunity to brush up their best dance moves and there was also some spirited ensemble singing.

Bennett was still there:

On Thursday, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley popped along. He took the opportunity to speak to campaigners about their concerns ahead of a meeting with Cuadrilla director Mark Lappin on Friday. Frack Free Lancashire said Bartley “was armed with a very long list of questions and we await Cuadrilla’s responses with great interest”:

Green Party fracking week one

Green Party fracking week two

Fracking under the spotlight

Bartley, who helped organise the week, told The Canary:

This week I was joined by Greens from across the country travelling to Lancashire to stand in solidarity with the community there on the front line of the fight against fracking. We know that any drilling for gas not only rides roughshod over this community’s wishes but threatens to wreck any chance we have of meeting our climate change targets. This dirty, dangerous industry is dying. It is time the government listened to common sense and put it out of its misery, investing instead in cleaner, cheaper renewable energy for the future.

Then after he stayed on Thursday night, he was joined by Green peer Jenny Jones on Friday:

A video captured some of the week’s highlights:

Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston New Road have been dogged by numerous scandals. These include:

  • Campaigners and local councillors accusing police and private security at the site of using “disproportionate force” and trying to “provoke violence”; something both groups deny.
  • Political interventions from shadow chancellor John McDonnell, and from Green Party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Bartley. Police at one point “dragged” Bartley away from the site.
  • The Environment Agency altering the terms of the company’s licence. Friends of the Earth branded the decision a green light for Cuadrilla to “intensify” fracking at the site.

But with the steadfast support from the Greens, and campaigners not going away – this dirtiest of industries and its dirty corporations haven’t got their way just yet.

This article was updated at 9:15am on Saturday 16 June to include updates to the story.

Get Involved!

– Read more about fracking from The Canary.

Featured image via Frack Free Lancashire and additional images via Jonathan Bartley

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