For immediate release: 8th August 2017
A total of 17 ‘Not Guilty’ Pleas entered on first day of court hearings following ‘Rolling Resistance’ month of action in July.
Contact: email@example.com / 07979817888. Photos available via Flickr. Photos of defendants in court available.
On Monday 7th August, eighteen people including councillors, local residents and three generations of the same Lancashire family attended preliminary court hearings at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court, following their peaceful direct actions against fracking in Lancashire last month. Many having taken direct action for the first time.
Four cases were heard relating to actions to blockade the Cuadrilla fracking site on Preston New Road on 3rd, 4th, 11th and 12th July 2017. Seventeen pleaded ‘Not Guilty’ and will be facing trial in the coming months.
Monday 3rd July Action – Local Councillors and Residents take action after being ‘left with no choice’
13 local councillors and residents took part in the first action on 3 July 2017, most of whom have never taken direct action before, blockaded the entrance, locking themselves to heavy objects and preventing any vehicles from entering the site. (Video from the action)
Seven of the residents and councillors from the 3rd July action appeared in court on Monday 8th August, charged with obstruction of the highway and also under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act. District Judge Brailsford presided over the hearing, where all residents entered a plea of ‘not guilty’.
Lancashire County Councillor Gina Dowding, who is took part in this direct action, stated:
“It’s abundantly clear that when it comes to fracking, local councils have been rendered weak and helpless. I felt I need to be here with the community to say that we won’t roll over and accept this. We put our bodies on the line because our voices haven’t been heard.”
Nick Danby, a resident of Inskip and retired civil servant, stated:
“I signed petitions, I wrote to my councillors, I wrote to my MP and I spoke at a Public Inquiry but none of that achieved anything. The government repeatedly ignored my voice so I was left with a simple choice of walking away or continuing to fight for what I believe in.
“I chose to continue the fight in the only way left to me – non-violent direct action. I am very sad that I have ended up in court but I feel that I was left with very little choice. It is important that local democracy should be upheld.”
The trial date has been set for the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th of November 2017, following the prosecution struggling to locate free dates for the police witnesses to attend. The District Judge also expressed surprise that there was no video evidence yet submitted by the prosecution, nor did they know when it would be viewable by.
Wednesday 12th July Action – Local Grandmother and Granddaughter blockade fracking site
Also appearing in court on Monday were three generations of the same Lancashire family who blockaded the Cuadrilla fracking site on Wednesday 12th July. (video of the action here and below)
Local grandmother Gillian Kelly (73) locked herself across the fracking site entrance with her partner Paul, her son Sebastian (48) and granddaughter Megan (19). She says:
“I’ve never done anything like this before, but I can’t sit idly and watch the place I was born and raised be poisoned and polluted by fracking. I feel now I’ve got to make a stand. This will affect my whole family and their futures; my sons, my grandchildren – and that’s why we’re taking action together as a family today.”
The lock on followed a silent demonstration by over 100 women from the anti-fracking community, entitled ‘Call for Calm’, seeking an end to increasingly violent police and security tactics witnessed at the site.
The all entered a ‘Not Guilty’ plea. The court hearing overran so significantly they were unable to set a date for trial.
Growing protests by local community members have been taking place every day at Preston New Road in Lancashire since the start of 2017, slowing and often halting Cuadrilla’s work to prepare the site for drilling. Sustained opposition has caused months of delays, and millions of pounds of losses for Cuadrilla, and supply chain companies are cancelling their contracts. A new survey has shown that 66% of Lancashire residents oppose fracking near their homes  and even the government’s own latest tracker data on fracking has shown public support has plummeted, with opposition to fracking rising to 33% of people against, and support dropping to just 16 % of respondents .
Notes for the Editor:
- Reclaim the Power is a UK-based direct action network fighting for social, environmental and economic justice. We have been working to oppose fracking since 2013 when we organised mass action at Balcombe. Since then, we’ve hosted anti-fracking action camps in Blackpool and at Didcot Power station, and taken countless actions to expose and resist the industry as well as the businesses in its supply chain. This April, Reclaim the Power implemented a fortnight of action against the fracking supply chain – leading to a number of companies cancelling their contracts. Read more at www.reclaimthepower.org.uk
- 66% of Lancashire residents oppose fracking near their homes
- Energy and Climate Change Public Attitude Tracker Wave 22
- Video: “You left us no choice.” Local residents and councilors tell us their motivations for a 13-person lock-on at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road
- Video: The last line of defence: Three generations of a Lancashire family took action together
- Contact: For more information, photos or interviews please contact firstname.lastname@example.org (07376) 530298
- Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/reclaimthepower2015/ and https://twitter.com/reclaimthepower