As a blockade against fracking in Lancashire continues to block roads and hinder operations the gloves seem to have come off from gas mining firm Cuadrilla, with its security team being accused of attacking protectors for the second day running.
Early reports from today’s anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road, Lancashire, suggesting that private security guards are injuring people who try to block the Cuadrilla site entrance. campaigner @alanwilliamz said today that one protector had received a “boot to the face” a day after violent scenes saw one man’s arm broken and another placed in a dangerous chokehold.
The firm’s aggressive assaults on participants in Reclaim the Power’s Rolling Resistance month of action comes just weeks after Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan accused protectors of “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” in the firm’s annual report but offered no evidence to back his claims.
In a statement yesterday on the attacks Reclaim the Power spokesperson Ellen Gibson said:
[This] brutality by Cuadrilla’s security team represents a totally disproportionate, violent and unnecessary response to the ongoing peaceful protests at Preston New Road. Particularly concerning were the actions of the Head of Security, who punched and throttled a man.
While security guards may be allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to eject someone from private property; punching demonstrators in the face whilst pinning them to the ground on a public road amounts to assault.
This violent behaviour from Cuadrilla’s staff against community members and supporters cannot be left unchallenged – the Police must act to guarantee the safety and right to peaceful protest of all people present at Preston New Road.
What little credibility Cuadrilla had in the local community and across the UK has been demolished after today’s actions by their staff.
Despite the early-morning scuffle and several arrests of protectors Reclaim the Power say there’s a “party atmosphere” at the site and the blockade is still going strong, with a solidarity lock-on and car blockade by anti-nuclear activists anti-taking place in the morning — bizarrely, the car was initially given a ticket.
Cuadrilla has been under intense pressure over recent months as the Rolling Resistance campaign to stop its controversial drilling of a site just outside Blackpool ramps up and around half a year of delays have added to its mounting losses. The firm was in the red by £9 million to December 2016 and is bleeding revenue in the midst of a decline of the wells services business — down from £3.9m in 2014 to zero last year.
It is also potentially working against the clock as a new probe opens into earthquakes which took place in Blackpool in 2012 — fracking has potentially been linked to tremors in the vicinity of works in the US.
The Rolling Resistance campaign aims to up the ante as fracking firm Cuadrilla tries to push forward with works on its controversial mine, and begins just a day after a recent survey showed two thirds of the Lancashire public are against fracking in the county.