Family on trial over Lancashire anti-frack protests

Seven people, including three generations of the same family, are in court today charged with “obstructing the highway”  during anti-fracking protests near Blackpool last year.

As the trial got underway supporting campaign Reclaim The Power reported a strong showing of solidarity at Preston Magistrates Court. The seven were part of last July’s Rolling Resistance month of action against Cuadrilla’s fracking bed at Preston New Road, just outside Blackpool.

The site has been considered a key flashpoint in the fight to “keep it in the ground” as it is one of the first major drilling sites in Britain for the controversial fracking method of gas extraction, which critics warn risks causing earthquakes and has been previously shown to seriously contaminate groundwater.

73-year-old Gillian Kelly, her son and her granddaughter are among the people facing charges resulting from a “lock-on” action under the banner of Families Against Fracking.

The group locked their arms into reinforced tubes in brightly painted boxes at the site entrance to raise awareness of the dangers of fracking to water, land, health and the climate.

Gillian said: “I’d never done anything like this before, but I certainly have no regrets. Fracking is a dirty, dangerous, unnecessary practice. It’s got no business in the county or the country.”

Her son Sebastian said, “Generations of my family have looked after the Fylde. I couldn’t look myself in the eye if I just stood by and watched such a dangerous, polluting industry sprawl across the Lancashire landscape.

And granddaughter Kelly added: “We just can’t go on extracting and burning fossil fuels if we want to avoid a climate catastrophe. Fracking means yet more carbon we just can’t afford to burn; we’ve got to draw the line here.”

Each of the group has pleaded Not Guilty to the charge of Obstruction of the Highway. The verdict is expected on January 26th.

Cuadrilla, which has experienced severe delays and lost huge sums of money on the venture so far, is currently predicting it will begin drilling in the second quarter of January. Protests are ongoing.


Pic: Reclaim the Power