Today, 19th January, is the 12th day of the daily rolling roadside protest at the Preston New Road fracking site, organised by the local residents’ Preston New Road Action Group .
Preston New Road is not like other fracking sites which can be closed completely during deliveries. It is in a residential area on the busy A583 which is part of Lancashire’s strategic road network that is used by the North West Ambulance Service in reaching “blue light” emergencies.
The Ambulances are targeted to attend 75 per cent of Category A Red 1 calls (the most time-critical, where patients are not breathing or don’t have a pulse) within 8 minutes. Even a 15-minute closure of this major local trunk road could make the difference between life and death.
Protection methods are shaped by the need to make sure that the single lane stays clear for traffic, particularly ambulances, while Cuadrilla takes the other lane for their lorries that are delivering materials.
Preston New Road Action Group is a local community group of residents of Westby-with-Plumptons, near Blackpool, Lancashire
The community is under the huge threat of fracking and the PNR Action Group formed with the intention of opposing shale gas extraction in their area and beyond.
PNR Action Group website says:
“We are on a strategic, legal path, as we have been for over two years. We have had the full support of a large legal team of solicitors, barristers, QCs and expert witnesses, and have secured refusals of planning permission at parish, borough and county levels, presenting strong and evidence-based documentation on the dangers of fracking to health, climate, ecology, tourism, community, agriculture etc.
This is the route we have and will continue to follow, as we now await confirmation of a judicial review. Many of our residents are frail and elderly and are scared of what is currently happening. Some are seriously ill, made worse by the continued stress of Cuadrilla’s plan to frack our community, without a democratic social license.”
Lancashire said no to fracking, very loudly and very clearly. The local parish, borough and county council all objected and refused planning permission to the fracking industry. Thousands of local residents also strongly objected.
The Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, overturned democratically-elected councillors and gave Cuadrilla planning permission.
National opposition to fracking is now at an all-time high. Despite the spin and untruths from the mainstream media, support for renewables is soaring at 79%, while fracking support is continually falling – at an all-time low of 17%.
7 ways to help stop fracking at Preston New Road
- Support the PNRAG Judicial Review by donating via their website
Preston New Road Action Group has a legal challenge pending. A judicial review request has been submitted to the High Court. We believe that Secretary of State Sajid Javid’s decision to overturn a county council’s democratic decision to refuse fracking in Lancashire is “fundamentally flawed”. And we intend to prove that within a court of law. You can help support our legal challenge fund.
- Find out more about the Preston New Road campaign by visiting their website
- Show how many people up and down the country want fracking to be banned by signing Friends of the Earth’s petition– Add your name
- Ask your Trade Union what they are doing to stop fracking and if they can do more. ALL Unions (except GMB) are against fracking and have declared support for the frack-free movement; we could do with more visible and audible opposition so if you’re in a Union, please ask what actions they are taking to stop this industry and if they can do more.
- Push Labour or LibDem MP and Councillors to get more vocal in Parliament and more visible with their local frack -free groups
- Support Caroline Lucas MP’s Fossil free politics campaign and sign the petition to kick fossil fuels out of politics
- Support the Preston New Road Rolling Protest
PNR Action Group welcome peaceful protesters to take part in the Preston New Road Rolling Protest
PNR Action Groups website says:
“This whole situation, quite frankly, is a dirty bloody travesty. But we are still following due legal process. Everyone will protest in their own way and it isn’t up to us to dictate protesting methods to others, nor would we ever want to.
We absolutely are in awe at every single person who has turned up to defend our community from this insidious industry. For those of us who are unable to leave our homes due to illness, this solidarity is truly humbling. We welcome more peaceful protestors.
All we ask is for the consideration of our small community and what we are currently experiencing at this time. That’s all.
In love, peace and respect, always.”
What is the PNR Rolling Roadside Protest?
Since 6th Jan, local residents and supporters from outside the area have each day during working hours implemented legal and peaceful protest methods, such as slow-walking in front of the lorries that are turning up daily.
On Thursday 5 January Cuadrilla moved on to Preston New Road with its contractors, AE Yates of Bolton to begin groundwork clearance.
No residents in the Preston New Road community group were informed of the works or the disruptive traffic management plan outside of their homes, causing delays and tailbacks.
Apparently councillors were only emailed on the same day as works began, but Cuadrilla failed to inform the actual community.
And Cuadrilla has not even completed its groundwater monitoring. Friends of the Earth have asked whether the permits covering the Preston New Road site are even up-to-date. Only 3 months of groundwater contamination monitoring are currently required in Lancashire (pdf), despite government legislation saying 12 months of monitoring should be carried out. Is this part of the “toughest regulations in the world” the government promised us?
What is the point of slow walking the lorries?
The slow-walks don’t stop construction – they delay and deter whilst alerting and making clear there is no social license for this industry. This visible public opposition is vital. And it works as an ‘Investor Removal Team’, as with each action against this industry, the investors grow more nervous.
That is the purpose of our action in delaying works vehicles – it’s NOT about a day’s delay here and there, it’s about so much more. The shale gas industry and Cuadrilla in particular are suffering huge cash problems and investors are not confident. This article from October shows how close to bankruptcy Cuadrilla is getting.
So think for a moment that you are considering investing in fracking the UK – you discover that delays are happening at every site that gets started – as a result of slow-walking vehicles as well as other Protector activity. Take our case here on Preston New Road – it’s a super-short area but even with 15-minute slow-walks per truck (actually works out to 30-minutes due to leaving and repositioning for next)… a potential investor will take look at this figure – times it by number of trucks over the lifecycle of the frack site – multiply by the number of frack sites proposed and realise that with over 500 vehicle movement per frack, thousands of wells to be fracked multiple times as well as hundreds more for site builds… we’re talking cumulative totals of YEARS OF DELAY at huge cost. As an investment opportunity with no guarantee of even getting at the gas… it sucks.
Here is a description by Tina Rothery of how the slow walking works
Despite being told by staff this morning to expect 12 trucks and one concrete mixer, only 6 trucks and one concrete mixer made it through in the allotted time – the slow-walks may be short (the space we’re in offers no real distance) but when applied to every truck during the brief delivery window of 9:30am-3pm, they impact not just the time taken but the flow of vehicles and work.
Other things protectors are doing at the PNR Rolling Roadside Protest
From Legal Observing, to witnessing and note taking about planning and human abuses, videoing, photography, shouts of support, warm gloves for cold hands on a truck, cake, coffee, water and support for each other.
Acting to halt breaches of planning, in the absence of Council planning officers who are not on site to make sure that planning conditions are enforced.
The other day, Cuadrilla’s traffic management plan dangerously closed the A583 on two separate occasions, to facilitate installation of several site cabins. This involved them moving the fencing that separates the two traffic lanes. Emergency vehicles would not have been able to pass as the entire carriageway was blocked by the HGVs delivering the cabins.
Protectors told Cuadrilla and the Police that if they attempted to move the fencing again and risk emergency transport by closing the road (to turn the over-sized vehicles) – that they would each hold the fence panels in place and fulfill the role of the absent Planning Inspectors. The following day, Cuadrilla stopped the over-sized vehicles coming.
Cuadrilla has also tried to overstay their allocated time of finishing by 3pm.
Tina Rothery explains:
When told at 2:40pm that there were 3 more vehicles due, residents huddled to discuss how this threatened breach would be handled. Cuadrilla wanted to ram all the vehicles in and would still facilitate our slow-walks… but we knew this would mean running past the close down time (Traffic Management Plan) and we were pretty certain, they’d blame that on the slow-walks too.
After slow walking the 2:40pm vehicle, Protectors prepared to disallow any further vehicles. We headed to the gates to exit the slow-walk and were told – NO FURTHER VEHICLES would come today.