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Swing sets and lock-ons: Fracking direct actions are kicking off

Swing sets and lock-ons: Fracking direct actions are kicking off

After a solid first day of blockading fracking suppliers at Carnforth in Lancashire with swings, a second eight-person lock-on at Preston New Road is keeping up the pressure on energy industry efforts to bring the dangerous and unpopular gas extraction method into mass production.

The lock-on (pictured above) is aimed at disrupting efforts from frackers Caudrilla to build up its works in the green fields of the Fylde after months of legal wrangling and years of local resistance, while yesterday’s action blockaded Lafarge subsidiaries Aggregate Industries and Tarmac, which supply aggregate to the drilling firm.

At Preston New Road today, campaigner Richard Marshall asked: “It’s nippy out there, anyone passing the site? Can you drop off any more quilts or blankets to keep our warriors doing the lock-on warm.”

Across the country in Leeds meanwhile a subvertising campaign at bus stops saw a giant purple squid happily telling local residents all about the toxic substances that could soon be making it into people’s cups of tea.

The group have taken action on the concern that wastewater from potential fracking sites in Lancashire and Yorkshire could be heading to the city’s Knostrop treatment works, run by Yorkshire Water and FCC Environment. George Calvert, from Reclaim the Power commented:

Yorkshire Water’s most recent advertising campaign has refered to clean water as a ‘liquid birthright’ but we know this could be threatened if the Knostrop treatment works accepts fracking fluid. That’s why we decided to do some extra advertising for them and let people around Leeds know what could be on the way. There’s currently no fracking in the UK, and Yorkshire Water and FCC Environment can cut ties with the industry now before it gets started to help protect the people of Leeds and the global climate.

Yesterday’s Lafarge action saw work at the firm’s Carnforth quarries at Back Lane and Leaper’s Mill entirely suspended after the appearance of protesters on swings, which were rigged onto height restriction bars at key access points and blocked all lorry movements, which campaigners say shut the site for most of the day. Two high flyers were hauled down after 11 hours and both were arrested. One of the protesters, Chris Thomson explained:

We’re up here today because fracking isn’t a playground game. We need to give Aggregate Industries a reason to rethink its position, which is at odds with local democracy. Lancashire said no to fracking. Its imposition threatens local jobs and health and will have deadly impacts on those already facing the consequences of climate change in drought-hit East Africa and beyond.

We’re asking Aggregate Industries to do the decent thing. Follow the example of other companies in the area. Step away from fracking your neighbours and we’ll gladly come down.

They hope that the forthcoming protests will help expose the large network of industrial processes, from sand quarrying to toxic water dumping, which will expand if commercial scale fracking goes ahead. Reclaim the Power is also hoping to support momentum for a national grassroots response to fracking plans in 2017. Local media filmed some of the blockade:

More to come

Actions are expected to carry on until at least April 10th as part of Reclaim the Power’s Breaking The Chain campaign to disrupt and expose the network of supply companies which prop up fracking in Britain.

Reclaim the Power is looking for people to spread the word about what actions are going on and why they’re protesting, and have put up a list of things that can be done to help:


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Want to get involved in awesome anti-fracking actions like these? Come along to the next Reclaim the Power National Gathering in Leeds – 22nd-23rd April. More information on Facebook.

Picture of swing protest by Kristian Buus, others from Reclaim the Power


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