Protesters march against Fracking ‘threat’

Pictures Martin Bostock'Members of RAFF protesting at  Cuadrilla's Anna's Road rig as part of a day of action against climate change.

Pictures Martin Bostock'Members of RAFF protesting at Cuadrilla's Anna's Road rig as part of a day of action against climate change.

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PROTESTERS campaigning against gas drilling on the Fylde coast took to the streets to make their voices heard.

Dozens marched from St Annes to the Cuadrilla Resources drill site in Anna’s Road, Westby, as part of a national day of action designed to raise awareness about gas fracking.

The march was organised by Residents Action on Fylde Fracking. Spokesman Tina Rothery said: “What we’re hoping to achieve is a lot more visibility.

“We’re pretty annoyed about it and we’re annoyed no-one is talking in honest terms.

“We are the guinea pig, because if this goes on in Blackpool it sets a precedent.

“This isn’t just about us, it’s about the whole country. I’m really pleased with the turnout and it’s a mixed bunch too.”

Cuadrilla Resources maintain fracking – the practice of drilling deep underground and firing down water to break up rock and release gas – is safe and will have huge benefits for the Fylde coast.

But the practice remains suspended after fracking caused earth tremors on the Fylde coast last year.

Members of a number of other organisations including Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, Frack Free Fylde and the Fylde Coast Green Party were present.

John Bailie, of Blackpool Old Road, Poulton, was one of a number of independent protesters who turned up.

He said: “We’re trying to get the general public to be aware.

“We all want energy and we all want jobs but not at the price that this process is going to inflict on the overall community. Slowly but surely more people are becoming aware and concerned.”

Peter Drinkwater, 51, of Kilgrimol Gardens, St Annes, said: “It’s a genuine concern, people with big money are driving this and they just don’t care.”

Lancashire County Councillor Tom Sharratt, who represents South Ribble Rural East, attended the march. He said: “Ultimately the county council may have to take a direction on fracking and I want to be well informed when we do.

“I’ve come today to listen to what people want to say to me.

“I’m keen to hear what people think about it and I attended both of the meetings that took place last month here.”

As the protesters took to the streets, Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said in the Daily Telegraph: “Britain is spending tens of billions of pounds importing gas.

“If we are able to develop gas resources here it’s not going to fill all our demand, but it could make a major difference for the country in terms of tax revenues, in terms of balance of payments and at a time when the economy is the pits.”

On the issue of safety he said: “We’ve heard everything from suggestions that Blackpool will sink beneath the waves to the idea that we will use the wells for nuclear waste,” he says.

“You cannot have a conversation if that is the basis of dissent. We are very happy to have a fact-based conversation. Actually, most people haven’t made up their mind and would like to have a fact-based conversation.”

The Government has still not given Cuadrilla the go-ahead to start extracting gas, but Mr Egan told The Telegraph his company could not wait forever. He added: “We have been waiting for 18 months. We don’t have infinite patience, our investors don’t have infinite patience.”

After the protest march a spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “Cuadrilla issued an invitation to members of RAFF to come for a tour of the Anna’s Road site as many local residents have and they were not interested.

“The invitation still stands and we would be happy to show them how we use proven, safe techniques to explore for and recover natural gas reserves.”

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