Lancashire Police has issued an apology for over-stating the number of protestors on a farmer’s field near a shale gas drill site.
It follows a social media post on Saturday when a rally took place to oppose fracking at the Preston New Road site near Little Plumpton.
We are pleased to see the correction and clarification
Almost 1,000 people gathered at Maple Farm but some protesters later went on to the site further along the busy A583 where Cuadrilla aims to test frack for gas.
At the time Fylde Police reported that around 150 people tried to breach the site.
The action drew sharp criticism from Cuadrilla and pro-fracking groups who labelled it as “unacceptable, irresponsible behaviour” and who claimed intimidation was carried out.
But this was hotly disputed by local campaigners who said the numbers on the field were nowhere near that figure.
Complaints were made to the police and the police commisioner.
In the online apology Lancashire Police stated: “Following an event on Saturday at Maple Farm badged as a national day of anti fracking action we posted information on these pages suggesting that a large number of protestors had tried to breach the fencing and to gain access to the site.
“This information was incorrect and it was in fact a handful of people, understood to be largely national protestors, who engaged in disorder.
“The remainder, and the vast majority, protested lawfully and we would like to apologise for any distress caused to those who attended and did protest lawfully.
“We aim to prevent, where possible, crime and disorder, but where it does occur we will provide an effective, lawful and proportionate response.”
A spokesman for the Preston New Road Action Group said: “We’re pleased to see the correction and clarification regarding the weekend’s defamatory comments that ‘150 people breached the fence’ has now been amended to ‘a handful of people’ at Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road.
“It’s a shame that much reputational damage has already been done to the public’s perception of peaceful protestors, but there is nothing that can be done about that now.
“People will continue to express their right to peaceful protest, however they choose, as Cuadrilla continue to operate with no social licence.”