The Rolling Resistance month of action against Cuadrilla’s controversial attempts to frack for gas in the Lancashire countryside drew to a close today — though it won’t be the end of the campaign to stop energy giants from imposing their will on the public in the name of profit. Freedom rounds up some of the goings on of the month below, which saw near-daily lock-ons, truck surfing, parties, rallies and lots of dodgy doings by the police and especially Cuadrilla.
Week 1 (July 2nd-9th)
July 3rd: With the towers up, the lock-ons began in earnest. 13 local residents and councillors joined in the action saying “you left us no choice.” July 4th saw the first violence from Cuadrilla, as a demonstrator was restrained and punched by a fracking site manager. Anti-nuclear protesters brought a car to their July 5th lock-on, demanding renewables rather than giant drills. And the fourth lock-on in a row shut Preston New Road on July 6th.
July 7th celebrated the end of the first week with a party drawing more than 150 people to take a mass walk, gathering and dance in front of the Preston New Road line of guards, while the weekend of July 8th-9th was a more relaxed sort of affair, with workshops at the Rolling Resistance basecamp.
Freedom did a major update covering a little over the whole week which went up at the link below:
Week 3 (July 17th-24th)
On July 17th protectors were out in the red suits worn in the international climate justice mobilisation in Paris in 2015. With red they drew lines that are not for crossing if we are to inhabit a safe and just planet — and three people were arrested.The struggle against dirty gas unfortunately isn’t confined to the UK.
The next day, activists showed solidarity with the Italian community of Melegdugno, which is resisting the TAP gas pipeline in Southern Italy, with a die-in and lock-on. From Lancashire to Puglia, communities across the globe are causing serious headaches for the fossil fuel industry.
July 19th saw five women hop off the bus and into lock-ons to protect our water and climate. Waste water from the Cuadrilla site is due to be treated at Knostrop in Leeds, while globally 300 000 lives are lost a year as a result of climate change.
It also saw a first for the resistance to fracking. A Cuadrilla security guard found himself in an arm tube. We’re not sure if it was more feminism or climate change that motivated him to take direct action, but happy to have security finally getting involved in the right sort of way, after weeks of violence and antagonism.
Rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of eight protectors on July 20th who’d travelled down from other areas threatened by fracking in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, blocking access. Their message? “Not here not anywhere.” Meanwhile in Manchester, Critical Mass was gearing up…
Hundreds from around the UK came down to enjoy delicious food and live music at the gates of Cuadrilla’s site.
More workshops and relaxing were the order of the day over the weekend, as training went on for direct action, legal observation, dealing with media and much more, with films and music lasting into the night. And as a positive close to the week, cracks began to show in the police “Mutual Aid” strategy with North Wales Police chiefs memorably noting that “no more officers will be going to facilitate Cuadrilla’s business in Lancs. Let them pay for their own security.”
Week 4 (24th-31st)
As the final week of the Rolling Resistance came into view, beloved children’s character Wally made an appearance on July 24th. Two protectors dressed as the star of the Where’s Wally books locked on at Preston New Road with 70 other supporters, many also dressed in in his famous red and white striped shirt as decoys, from early in the morning.
Truck surfing was the big story of the day on July 25th, as three people managed to tie up an eight-lorry convoy right through to evening. The surfers kept up their hard work on July 26th, stopping a convoy from reaching the site which subsequently pulled out of working for Cuadrilla entirely. They were joined by 30 Lancashire women who covered the gates and supported yet another lock-on, from members of Rising Up.
Despite the generally upbeat tone and successes of the Rolling Resistance however it’s important not to overlook the violence which took place. The Network For Police Monitoring released their movie on the subject the same day:
On July 27th four people parked up at the Lancashire site and locked themselves inside their cars within concrete and metal tubes. A statement released by the protesters locked on to the vehicle said: “We have taken action today because Fracking will contaminate our drinking water, pollute the air we breathe and yet provide hardly any jobs for local people because one third of the workforce will come from the U.S.A and most of the rest will be brought in from other parts of the UK”
It was unfortunately too late to stop the smuggling of the Cuadrilla drill rig onto the site, which took place at 4am in the morning and caused a huge furor after the firm claimed it had been done with the full collusion of the local council and police. The council subsequently denied all knowledge, pointing out that such a move contravened local regulations, while the police suggested that, despite accompanying the rig with 50 officers, it had merely been told the move would happen and was thus forced to make arrangements.
All of which leads onto July 28th, when after three days on the tops of the trucks, most of the surfers came down. They were successful in putting off a haulage company, and the previous day had seen a crane firm back off as well. The day also saw a frack-free carnival in glorious weather with everything from mass hula-hooping to a bicycle-powered bubble machine.
The final surfer came down on July 29th after 75 hours atop a lorry deliveraing to the fracking site, as things started to wind down for the end of the month of action. But a packed house turned out at nearby Maple Farm to hear about the moratoriums and bans on fracking in Scotland and Ireland.
The final action took place on July 31st, and just goes to show what a determined person can accomplish, closing the entrance down yet again with a one-woman lock-on.
Pics: Reclaim The Power