Leaders hit out at protest action

Complaint: Babs Murphy
Complaint: Babs Murphy
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Business leaders have spoken of their “shock and disgust” over the actions of anti-fracking protestors who invaded their offices.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce issued a statement after protestors stormed into its Blackpool offices this week on a “day of action.”

The protestors were demonstrating against shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla, which also has an office in the same building.

Police are investigating the incident, and a claim by the Chamber that a member of staff was injured and property damaged.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the chamber, said: “As local businesses from Lancashire, we are shocked and disgusted by the recent targeting of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce offices in Blackpool by professional protestors, resulting in one member of the Chamber’s staff being injured and damage to the inside of the building.

“This was not a peaceful and law abiding protest. We absolutely support the democratic right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech.

“But ‘direct action’ against individuals with an opposing view is not only undemocratic, but reckless.”

Cuadrilla has applied to drill at two sites in Lancashire.

The county council will decide on the application in the coming months, possible paving the way for “fracking” in the countryside.

Hundreds of activists have camped out in the Blackpool area this week.

A spokesman for Reclaim the Power said no further demonstrations like those on Monday were planned.

A Lancashire police spokesman: “This is being treated as an offence of aggravated trespass and efforts are being made to identify those people who illegally entered the building.”