An anti-fracking protest camp has been set up near to a proposed exploration site for shale gas in Lancashire.
The No Dash for Gas “Reclaim The Power” camp has positioned itself in the Fylde area close to one of two planned drill sites by energy firm Cuadrilla.
Organisers predict up to 1,000 people will attend the six-day long camp near Little Plumpton to campaign against shale gas extraction in the region by the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Last summer, Reclaim The Power joined other protesters at Balcombe, Sussex, who attracted huge publicity as attempts by Cuadrilla to drill for oil were disrupted over fears it would lead to fracking. A large number of people were arrested as bids were made to block lorries accessing the site.
Cuadrilla believes that Lancashire’s Bowland basin has the potential to become a leading shale gas resource.
It suspended test drilling in June 2011, though, following two earthquakes in the area in April and May of that year.
An independent report by experts later concluded the drilling was the probable cause of the tremors but it was due to an “unusual combination of geology” at the well site and was unlikely to be repeated.
Earlier this year Cuadrilla announced it was seeking planning permission to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells on two sites at Roseacre Wood, Inskip, and on farmland near Little Plumpton, off Preston New Road. Councillors at Lancashire County Council are due to make a decision on both applications by November at the latest, with drilling likely to start early next year.
Announcing the setting up of the camp off Preston New Road yesterday, Reclaim The Power said campaigners were ready “to take direct action and share skills and knowledge...in support of the local community’s fight against Cuadrilla’s plans.”
Hannah Jones, from Reclaim The Power, said: “Besides the damage it can cause to water and air locally, fracked gas can be as bad for the climate as coal. We need energy that’s sustainable, democratic, and affordable, instead of corporate controlled fossil fuels.”
The group says local residents have handed in 14,000 objections to the county council’s consultation on Cuadrilla’s plans, with a number of Lancashire grandmothers, mothers and children occupying a field near the proposed Preston New Road site since last Thursday.
In a statement issued yesterday, Cuadrilla said: “We believe there is absolutely no requirement and little local support for the protest and the illegal occupation of land being farmed by a local farmer, disrupting his business and family in the process. We understand the landowner is in the process of instructing lawyers to commence legal proceedings to recover possession of his land.”
A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said officers were monitoring the situation.