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£5.9m cost of fracking policing set to rise as new campaign is planned

Police and protesters at the Preston New Road fracking site last July
Police and protesters at the Preston New Road fracking site last July

Campaigners have appealed for people to get behind a three month anti-fracking drive starting in April.

The call comes as the full cost for the policing of the Preston New Road fracking site in 2017 was £5.9m and tying up 100 officers a day.

The activists say that it is a crucial time for their fight against the industry which they fear will cause pollution, earth tremors and increase global warming, since gas exploration company Cuadrillla is preparing to carry out the first horizontal fracking in the UK.

A planning inquiry is due to open on April 10 into Cuadrilla’s bid to frack at Roseacre Wood after it submitted a revised traffic management plan. Shale supporters who say fracking will create many jobs and provide a big supply of home grown gas say it is time for the police to be tougher on protesters.

A tweet from anti-fracking campaigners this week said: “Situation with fracking England now critical and urgent actions imminent – follow @UnitedResist for updates and calls for your involvement.

“Ongoing daily actions ‘go large’ from April 2 for three months continuous resistance. Please help.”

But Lancashire For Shale Chairman, Lee Petts, said: “It’s time for campaigners to accept that shale gas exploration at Preston New Road is entirely legitimate, as evidenced by the refusal of their Judical Review and more recent dismissal of their appeal of that ruling, and to now move on.

“The protests we saw in 2017 cost £5m to police and regularly caused unnecessary disruption to local people who eventually got so fed-up that over 350 of them wrote to the Chief Constable to demand a firmer policing response.

“Affected residents, local businesses and those that use the A583 to commute to work shouldn’t have to face the threat of three months of costly disruption.”

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: "People will continue to oppose fracking wherever it raises its head. It is extremely unpopular with local communities who have seen through all the industry spin. Indeed only yesterday Cheshire Council rejected IGAS's plans to drill at Ellesmere Port and Rotherham Council rejected INEOS's plans to drill at Harthill. Sefton Council have also said it will reject any plans to frack on their land.

"Local communities are fighting back. It is a democratic and fundamental human right to protest against something you do not believe in it. Where would we be without the likes of the sufragettes, Martin Luther King, Ghandi and other great civil right campaigners?

"Sometimes people have to stand up and be counted especially when the democratic process fails them.

"Here in Lancashire opposition continues to grow and we expect, especially if Cuadrilla start to frack at Preston New Road, it will meet increased opposition. People from all over the UK and abroad have stood alongside local residents to protest at the site since work started in January last year."