Protesters in Lancashire march along Preston New Road near Blackpool, calling for outright ban on fracking

Protesters in Lancashire marched against fracking to the beat of a drum and spurred on by passing car drivers tooting their horns.
Protesters in Lancashire marched against fracking to the beat of a drum and spurred on by passing car drivers tooting their horns.
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Protesters in Lancashire marched against fracking to the beat of a drum and spurred on by passing car drivers tooting their horns.

They were calling for nothing less than an outright ban on fracking after Monday saw a tremor measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale which was felt by many near the epicentre.

The British Geological Survey reported the large tremor hit near Blackpool at 8.30am on Monday.

Operations at Cuadrilla’s flagship fracking site were put on hold by The Oil and Gas Authority following the series of tremors but campaigners say that’s not enough.

Today’s demonstration, which gathered outside the Cuadrilla frack site in Preston New Road in Little Plumpton, saw many take up placards for the first time in the fight over hydraulic fracturing.

Susan Butler-Davies, who lives in Kirkham, was one of many who took to the streets for the first time. She was at home having a coffee when she felt the tremor.

“I felt the earthquake on Monday,” she said. “I was watching the birds and the next minute it felt like somebody was behind the settee pushing it forwards and backwards.

“It was horrible, awful. My mother in law called from Weeton, she felt it there. I have been against it since the word go. It’s just got to the point where enough is enough and that’s what’s brought me here today.

“I felt the one at Preesall and they stopped it then. Then the wardrobe was shaking - that was enough to stop Preesall. This one was stronger than that one. We can’t keep having this, it’s ridiculous.

“I felt shaken up afterwards. It unnerved me. The whole house went backwards and forwards. I was a really strong movement. It took me a few seconds to work out what it was.”

Jane Hogarth, who lives just off Preston New Road, stepped out for the first time as well after Monday's event. She said: “That’s the one that’s brought it home to me. It was so significant, you couldn’t mistake it. I haven’t taken part before and it’s time I did.

“I was sitting in bed having a brew and I heard a roar. I thought it was motorbikes. It felt like shaking. The roar carried on down the road.”

After Monday’s tremor Cuadrilla confirmed it was “in the area of our exploration site in Preston New Road” and was magnitude 2.9 on the Richter scale.

The firm said at the time: “We are working with the team of regulators who intensely monitor our activity at Preston New Road to investigate the event and will provide more updates in due course.

“Hydraulic fracturing operations will remain suspended during this time.”

Anita Bradley, who crossed the country all the way from Hartlepool in County Durham to be at the march, said: “I’m just concerned about the environment and I think this is D-day. If this continues then other wells might start.

“Given the large earthquake that we had on Monday hopefully the authorities will start listening to our fears. It’s an opportunity to get more people aware of the local and national concerns.

“We have seen the devastation it can have on the communities in the US, on animals, farmers and we don’t want it here.

“If this one gets stopped then others could be stopped and if this one keeps going then future developments will happen.”

Nick Danby from Frack Free Lancashire said: “This protest was not organised by Frack Free Lancashire. It was a spontaneous protest by people who are now thinking fracking is not quite such a good thing.

“On one hand I am saddened that it took a large earthquake to do that.

"Hopefully the Government will finally see sense.

“We went to Cuadrilla with a letter. A suspension on fracking is well and good but we want a ban. We want it now. We don’t want another inquiry with lessons learned.

“The only lesson to be learnt is Fracking must be banned now.”

Lancashire Police estimated that the protest saw a crowd of about 350 people. Among them was MP for Blackpool South, Gordon Marsden who was immediately inundated with

complaints after Monday’s tremor.

He said: “I have come down, not for the first time, to register our continued concerns. I have written to the Environment Secretary to see a permanent pause on fracking.”

South Ribble councillor Jacky Alty said: “Lancashire County Council has said no to it - I think it’s a gross imposition by central Government when we are in a climate emergency.

“I’m doing it for my grandchildren.”