Yellow ribbons flutter in the breeze, softening the stark grey of the metal fencing, and bringing flares of brightness to the morning.
Stretching from Blackpool to Great Plumpton in Lancashire, the A583 is bordered for some distance on both sides by farmland and open space. The road happens to cross an area of land rich in natural gas (trapped in the rock underground), a fact which has attracted the attention of Cuadrilla, a gas exploration and production company.
The name of Preston New Road has become deeply associated with Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking operations on local land, and the passionate local and national anti-fracking movement which has sprung up in response to this and other fracking sites.
Fossil gas is commonly advertised as a ‘clean’ solution to meeting energy needs. However, methane, the key component of natural gas, traps heat in the atmosphere 84 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide during the first 20 years after it is emitted. This means that adding more natural gas to the energy mix is only exacerbating climate change, not slowing it down.
What’s more, fracking is harmful to local communities, with the proven and suspected impacts ranging from air pollution and increased road noise, to earth tremors and water pollution. Introducing fracking to an area harms health and has a detrimental impact on general wellbeing. See here for a more in-depth explanation about natural gas and why the process of fracking is so dangerous, both environmentally and socially.
Preston New Road is now a site of resistance. Recent months and years have seen the community coming together to (quite literally) take a stand. Each day sees people arriving to line the road near the Little Plumpton drilling site entrance; to talk; to tie yellow ribbons of solidarity and hope. Nearby Maple Farm’s polytunnel has become a hub of tea, coffee, information and energy for daily organising. There have been moments of organised action, as well as a constant presence of concerned residents.
And it’s not just local people – many have gathered to show support from around the country. As recently as 15th March, in an action organised by Reclaim the Power, people travelled from Oxfordshire to set up scaffolding tripods outside the frack site, thus disrupting entry and drawing media attention.
Naomi Kreitman, a UKYCC campaigner, spent some time at the site and reports, ‘the resistance here restores my faith in humanity, which is needed when you’re face to face with that fracking rig. So many people are willing to put their lives on hold to fight this, through direct actions that disrupt the work and in so many other ways. It hadn’t occurred to me that the activists living on the site full time need showers, hot dinners, carshares, and so on – and they are so looked after by the community. There are people keeping track of every single pipe that goes in the ground, and every delivery that goes into the site. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and really look after each other. You have to to sustain activism like this for so long. There are so many roles to play in this sustained and powerful resistance. The powerful community that has emerged is truly the only good thing about Cuadrilla being here.’
Preston New Road is by far not the only site where this struggle is taking place. There are other locations in the UK currently being explored by Cuadrilla (Roseacre Wood, also in Lancashire, and Cowden, Balcombe and Lingfield, all in the south), as well as by other companies. Fracking is already underway in countries such as the US and Canada. However, others such as Scotland and France have banned fracking due to public opposition and acknowledgement of its detrimental impacts.
What can I do to support the fight against fracking?
It takes people standing together to slow and halt this fracking progress. Anyone can be an activist and show support for those who are taking a stand. There are so many ways to join the fight against fracking. You can visit Preston New Road and join the protests (as well as having a cup of tea and a chat with the friendly people at Maple Farm), sign a petition, contact local politicians, write to the local press, and spread the word on social media. In April, May and June there will be food served everyday, events in the evenings, and space to camp – everyone is warmly warmly invited to join. You can also donate to the Frack Free Lancashire Legal Fund.
Finally, and excitingly, you can follow and spread the word about this year’s UKYCC gas campaign. We will continue to campaign, on the ground and online, against natural gas extraction and lobbying in the UK and further afield. We will be attending protests at Preston New Road, as well as blogging and sharing photographs of the ongoing action, to make sure that public, media and political attention stay focussed on this issue. Please use the hashtags below to search and share on social media!
UKYCC supports all those speaking out against fracking in Lancashire, in other parts of the UK, and beyond. We share the frustrations and hopes of those fighting environmental and social injustice in many corners of the world. We condemn the sidelining of overwhelming public concern about long-term environmental damage in favour of short-term corporate interests.
#NoRoomForGas #WeSaidNo #FrackOff #PNR #CleanGasKissMyAss #UntilWeWin #NotHereNotAnywhere