BREAKING: Local businesses show support for Reclaim the Power as protestors occupy Cuadrilla’s Northern Headquarters, opposite the Chamber of Commerce to protest against plans to frack in Lancashire

Monday August 18th 2014

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On Monday 18th at 12:00am a group of eleven activists from the Reclaim the Power camp near Blackpool occupied fracking company Cuadrilla’s northern headquarters. The company’s office is located in an industrial park two kilometres from the farmland that Cuadrilla hopes to frack and opposite the offices of the North and West Chamber of Commerce. The group’s members, who have traveled from other areas of the UK at risk from fracking, including the Mendips, Bath and south Wales, entered the office at 11:30am. There they read a statement to workers outlining the reasons for the occupation and dropped a banner saying ‘Hello Cuadrilla’.

They emphasized Cuadrilla’s persistent attempts to operate in the area, despite widespread and active resistance to fracking. After the gas company made two applications to frack in Lancashire, more than 14,000 residents sent letters of objection to the County Council. A number of local groups including Frack Free Fylde, Residents Against Fylde Fracking and Frack Free Lancashire have also gained hundreds of supporters.

Several members of the group have since secured themselves in place in the foyer of the building using plastic “arm tubes”. Two activists each insert an arm into opposite ends of the same pipe, “locking on” to each other’s hands in various ways. They intend to remain in the office until they are removed by police.

Tina Louise Rothery, Local Blackpool Resident & Grandma, said:

“Cuadrilla have come into Lancashire and attempted to manipulate and buy our local councillors and our local businesses. They have sought out and bought into the business influencers. We believe this is under-handed and a dirty way to do a dirty business. Having worked alongside Babs Murphy(1) in business I am astounded that she was so willing to sell us out without listening to the other side.  We offered her every opportunity to look at the same research as we have, and she said that there was no need.

“The North and West Chamber Of Commerce carries a great deal of weight and influence and should be more responsible in their actions which are currently misleading local businesses. They are not being made aware of the damage the shale gas industry will do to local tourism, agriculture and all the other businesses that depend on them.”

Another local resident, father of two David Martin, said:

“Since arriving in our community, Cuadrilla has caused two earthquakes, failed two wells, been censured on seven points of ‘over-stating safety claims’ in community-information literature by the Advertising Standards Authority (2) and at the very least, misled local business owners and residents about the true business of shale gas extraction and what it will mean to us. We have the benefit of hindsight gifted to us by those in the USA, Australia, Canada and elsewhere who have been living with the results of this industry’s activity and we would be foolish to ignore this.

“In France, Germany and various parts of Australia, Canada and Europe, the practice of fracking is banned. We’d like to know what it is that they realise, and what our own government is ignoring. Right now, Lancashire County Council is considering Cuadrilla’s planning application and we’d rather they were considering our strong community resistance. With more than 20 Lancashire groups opposing, 14,000 objection letters in and thousands more gathered ready to deliver, we need our concerns recognised and we need plans for fracking rejected.”

Local businessman John Toothill of Maple Farm Nursery expressed his support for the Reclaim the Power Camp:

“I’m just down the hill from Cuadrilla’s site and the camp, and we’re just so, so pleased that they’re there protesting against Cuadrilla. My father and myself set up the business 30 years ago. We’ve been through the hard economic times and we’ve managed to keep our heads about the water. But this issue is far more serious from a business point of view as even hardy plant stock is threatened by the effects of poisoning the water table by fracking. And who would bring their children into a polluted zone and buy plant material grown there?

“The farmers in this area have been duped by Cuadrilla, but there’s hardly a farm in the area that hasn’t been paid by them to have monitors on their land. And Fylde Borough have offered nothing to local people. Some have received payments, the Council itself has received donations and we can turn to the people who should support us.”

Notes to editors

  1. Babs Murphy is at the head of both the North West Energy Task Force – funded by Cuadrilla Resources and Centrica Energy – as well as head of the North and West Chamber of Commerce.
  2. ASA ruling on Cuadrilla –