Reclaim The Power, a national protest group opposed to shale gas and other fossil fuel extraction and use, has announced plans to target Lancashire suppliers to Cuadrilla in a fortnight of direct action and disruption.
It says activists have plans to pressure companies in the fracking supply chain during a fortnight of direct action called ‘Break the Chain’ running from March 27th – April 10th and that Reclaim the Power groups across the country will use direct action to disrupt companies supplying services and materials to the fracking industry.
The move, which has echoes of the tactics used in the past by animal rights extremists, follows scenes of aggravated trespass at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire on Saturday 25th February.
Lee Petts from Lancashire For Shale, Chair of the Institute of Directors in Lancashire, said: “We condemn the targeting of Lancashire supply chain businesses like this in the strongest possible terms.
“Local companies and the people they employ should not have to fear the threat of harassment and intimidation as they go about their lawful business just because they have sensibly chosen to help make the most of the economic benefits shale gas can bring to our area.
“In attacking local suppliers, most of which are small companies, activists unfairly put jobs and contracts at risk, force contracts to be placed outside Lancashire, and cause unnecessary anxiety and stress.”
The last time Reclaim The Power organised direct action like this, the offices of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce in Blackpool were occupied for several hours after protestors forced their way inside. It led to the arrest and successful prosecution of an anti-fracking campaigner that had travelled to the area all the way from Bristol.
Babs Murphy, Chamber chief executive said: “The anti-fracking movement totally overstepped the mark on Saturday. The appalling scenes which were witnessed have no place in Lancashire, and we do not need to see them repeated by Reclaim The Power activists. Whilst local protestors may be in complete denial about Saturday’s events, the facts speak for themselves. Livestreams of the event show a blatant disregard for the law. We respect the democratic right to a peaceful and lawful protest but businesses expect the right to go about their work without the fear of intimidation, aggressive bullying and retribution.”
AE Yates, that was awarded a £1.5 million contract to build Cuadrilla’s latest site at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton, has already faced a number of protests at its head office premises. The civil engineering contractor also works in the renewable energy sector, meaning that blockades of its site could also disrupt its work in the very sector anti-fracking activists claim to support as an alternative to fossil fuels .
Lancashire For Shale is calling on the police and courts to take swift and robust action against offenders that are found to overstep the mark of acceptable protest.