Decision to deliver rig at 4am was Cuadrilla's

Police have put a contraflow in place on Preston New Road after protesters staged a carnival
Police have put a contraflow in place on Preston New Road after protesters staged a carnival

The decision to have a rig delivered to a Lancashire fracking site at 4am in breach of planning regulations was ultimately made by Cuadrilla, say police.

Police have said that although liaison with the company is on-going, they are not responsible for the suspected planning breach at the Preston New Road site on Tuesday.

Cuadrilla are under investigation by County Hall for delivering the rig outside of permitted hours, which breaks strict planning rules.

Cuadrilla said it was a decision made after "consultation with police".

But police said it was Cuadrilla's decision - and once that had been made, they had a duty to respond to the situation to ensure the safety of the community, workers and protesters.

Supt Richard Robertshaw said: “As a result of Cuadrilla’s decision to carry out deliveries in the early hours, a policing operation was put in place to ensure safety and to minimise disruption to the local community, particularly given recent increased protester activity at the Preston New Road site which is still on-going.

“Our aim as always is to ensure is a consistent and coordinated policing response and ensure a balance between the rights of people to peacefully protest, together with the rights of the wider public, including local businesses, to go about their lawful activities.

“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but if it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.”

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said that the decision to make the delivery outside of working hours was made after consultation with the police following increased and "aggressive protest activity" outside the fracking site.

He said: "We decided, following consultation with the Lancashire Police, to take delivery of the rig in the early daylight hours of the morning.

"This was done to avoid yet another major road blockage by protesters with the attendant prolonged inconvenience to local road users and potential impacts on commuter and protester safety.”

Lancashire County Council said yesterday that it had launched an investigation into the suspected breach of planning regulations by the fracking company.

- A contraflow has been put in place on Friday, July 28 on Preston New Road after protesters staged a carnival.