‘Fracking’ protestors occupy rig

A protestor from the 'Frack Off' group scales the rig at Hesketh Bank.

A protestor from the 'Frack Off' group scales the rig at Hesketh Bank.

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Protestors have scaled a huge drilling rig in Lancashire as part of a campaign against a controversial drilling programme.

Nine campaigners from the ‘Frack Off’ group scaled the rig owned by Cuadrilla Resources on farmland off Marsh Road, between Hesketh Bank and Banks, at 5.30am on Wednesday.

The rig is part of a controversial exploratory drilling programme run by the firm which is searching for shale gas reserves locked under Lancashire.

A spokesman for the group said the occupation had halted work and that protestors aimed to sit on top of the rig to stop the drilling “for as long as possible.”

The group used social networking website Twitter to say: “Hearing that one of the climbers was jumped on by a security guard when trying to get on site but managed to get away.”

It comes as Cuadrilla, which has also operated rigs at Singleton and Preese Hall on the Fylde Coast as part of its work, prepares to publish research into allegations its work causing minor earthquakes.

Protestors from the group is also planning to campaign outside the Shale Gas Environmental Summit in London on Wednesday.

One of the climbers Colin Eastman said: “Conventional fossil fuels have begun to run out and the system is moving towards more extreme forms of energy like fracking, tar sands, and deep water drilling.

“The move towards ‘extreme energy’ is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, sucking the last most difficult to reach fossil fuels from the planet at a time when we should be rapidly reducing our consumption altogether and looking for sustainable alternatives.

“In the UK fracking for shale gas is planned alongside, not instead of, extraction of conventional fossil fuels like coal.”