Day 18 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people were gifted what is maybe best described as an ‘allsorts’ sort of day where roadside Protectors at PNR were joined in solidarity by visiting Protectors from Southport and Yorkshire; creating an array of colour and fabulous company. Some who visited joined the slow-walks or roadside demonstration that happen daily here from 9:30-3 (this is the 18th day of work on the site) and others chose their own actions; with one under a truck at the start of the day and two who locked onto the fencing at the end of the day and were I hear arrested; I had left by that point.
So the tally for slow-walks was again 8 trucks today but no road sweeper to walk at the end due to the lock-ons. Primarily tarmac was arriving to start layering this heavy-duty site road to prepare it for the intense weight and volume of vehicles that are scheduled to come. Within a few weeks, up to 50 aggregate vehicles are due daily – at this stage, residents/Protectors will not be able to slow-walk in the space we are in, without putting lives at risk (due to busy road but primarily the ambulance route that is vital) but other disruptive ways have been discussed amongst those at the roadside and verbally passed to visitors. PUPs (Pop Up Protests) are also planned by Protectors able to get to the set-off points at quarries, in order to reduce the number of arrivals at PNR. And then there's all those unknown-unkonwns!
The Emergency Plan came back into force today when the Protector went under the truck in the morning; this meant that other trucks were now permitted to enter from other directions not on the Traffic Management Plan, including arriving through the top fence. At one point the fencing was parted at its centre though to release a truck and it’s unclear if this is permitted in any circumstances and certainly seemed a dangerous manoeuvre. The County Council Officer was on duty much of the time so I’d be surprised if he wasn’t aware... whether it bothers him enough to add to all the other Cuadrilla breaches, I sadly doubt.
Fortunately the Residents’ Groups here ensure evidence of breaches is provided to the Council and is logged. Another issue with an ambulance came in the afternoon when it ran the red light heading up PNR – to encounter 5 vehicles coming head on and with no space to move across… not helped by one of the drivers failing to even notice any of this was happening. Mentioning again that this is a ‘Blue Light’ road for ambulances – in other words, the patient is close to death and this is the priority route between our two major hospitals at Preston and Blackpool. Cuadrilla are dangerous in all ways to our health and wellbeing :(
The entire area was very different today, partly due to the visitors but also because the policing changed in response to the actions and the atmosphere was charged. Stopping an industry as powerful as this was never going to be easy. Here in the UK though, Protectors across the country have done just this and are continuing to do it – there are no fracking production sites in operation. Slow-walking trucks, lock-ons, planning objections, legal challenges and more have been our tools and although sites still got built, delay has cost time, money and investor confidence. Cuadrilla threatened they’d be in full production by 2013, then 2014, then 2015 etc and now by next year… we haven’t gone away, we have grown more numerous and despite what we see, we actually WON and their planning was rejected – the deficit of democracy is all that got them back here.
No idea exactly how we end up stopping this – just that we don’t stop until we do. My view is that what we’ve done over the years has been successful but that now- it’s not going to be enough – there needs to be other ways and the diversity of them I think will be key. At PNR we are joined daily by many residents who have come to be active for the first time and are finding their own ways to contribute to this movement – the new voices bring new ways and fresh ideas as well as reinforcement and the value of this is immeasurable. … new is good and may be a vital ingredient to the final killer recipe for success.
Thanks so much to Frack Free Scarborough and Frack Free Southport for your energy, passion and solidarity today :)
It's finally the end of a long week at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest that has brought ups, downs and a multitude of other directional emotions… next week beckons after blissful duvet time. See you Monday?
*Image highlight of the day: a simple remembering the beauty of our green fields …now being chewed up and spat back as industrial vomit.