Thursday, 16 March 2017

Day 51 in the Cuadrilla House...

Day 51 in the Cuadrilla House… and the good people are still hard at it and me, I have been a bit overwhelmed by too much in my head and heart along with too many things to do and places to be… so I didn’t get round to writing up the days since Day 46. Thankfully Miranda kept up where she could whilst I didn’t and the collection of some missed days at Preston New Road Rolling Roadside Protest follows my little bit. Today we gathered and although most were at the main site entrance on PNR, others were in Manchester Court for the first day of the crucial Judicial Review to challenge Westminster … and some of us broke away to get back down the hill to Maple Farm. My sister and I started the day by presenting the Police with a print out of the appropriate parts of the Human Rights Act that relate to peaceful protest… we asked them to go read and ensure they understood that we were acting lawfully with our actions (we planned on slow walking trucks) and did not consider this unreasonable or arrestable. We also asked that they provide printed evidence of any decision they made to deny us our right.

So with the daily heavy policing at the entrance and every attempt at peaceful protest actions or worthwhile slow-walks stopped as they try to start – some Nanas and other Protectors decided to take ourselves further down PNR in order to stand a chance at slow-walking. The police popped down to find Julie and I in response to the paperwork we’d given them and to try to tell us that slow-walks weren’t considered ‘safe’ on this busy road. We could see clearly the length of this stretch of road, the traffic was quite light and just a few hours earlier, had witnessed an ‘Abnormal Load’ travelling at slow-walk speed, without a police escort – it was a tram being delivered to Blackpool and we argued that if this was not considered unsafe then we weren’t. Their argument was weak and we would win in court as Protectors have time and again at other sites… but it helped to go through this process for clarity. No-one wants to be arrested or handled with force and we shouldn’t be – we are in the right… we need to keep publicly making this point even if the police are ignoring it.

A truck did come along shortly after this and our worry that we wouldn’t know which truck was for the site, was helpfully sorted when a van load of police came to herd us at the roadside outside Maple Farm. I had crossed the road to livestream them spreading out when a police car began to pass with the truck behind… I stepped between the two and was joined by others as the police swarmed, pushed, grabbed, shouted and used their bodies to bump us of the road. We didn’t get long but we hoped that the same treatment would be received by the same truck at various points in its journey up PNR to the site. We’ll be doing this again I think ;)

The ever-growing frustration amongst the good people at the roadside is immense… we are being treated as if we are criminals and the police are brutal in their handling of our bodies. We cannot continue to endure this and the situation will grow worse on so many levels if we can’t find our way to stop this soon. I fear for the well-being of all of us – whether we’re new or experienced, this is a vile set of experiences to live through every day. See you tomorrow?


View from Miranda Cox of the past few days:

Day 47....
Lock on's are a really good way of stopping work on site. It looks excruciating for those involved, waiting. What strikes me as worse is the release.

I tried to watch as some were cut out by the protestor removal team and it was upsetting. The noise of the blades cutting the sound of metal on metal...The silence in between. All shrouded a barrier of police vans and personnel. Then of course there's the issue when force outweighs compassion. Sadly I feel we are seeing more of this.

Today's action did not inconvenience road users, just those trying to build the frack pad. The road was closed briefly by Police, not protestors, on a couple of occasions. This was to allow the Protestor removal team to set up and then to allow a stream of vehicles off site. At no point did protector action impact on road users.

The mood amongst supporters was light. Many people passed and made food donations and shared good wishes. The day was spent discussing humanity, the social implications and ecological issues connected with this campaign.

It took a whole day to release the eight people. Another whole day lost for those who want to frack. Hope to see you tomorrow or at some point soon.

Day 48
Joyous day.....My heart literally jumped when I saw the early morning live stream of a protector on top of a lorry.

My activity today has been fencing. Not the skillful art involving masks and foils and lots of fancy foot moves, but the monotonous questions about fence lines. Why bother some may ask? Because I can and I will. I cannot outrun trucks, and even my attempts at physically blocking trucks are swept aside by a wall of hi vis yellow. Not that this will stop me. But what I can do is ask questions, and keep asking.

The fence line issue is more than a planning argument. It epitomises the way this industry insists on taking from us. The extra 2 metres in highway conceded to heras fencing may seem like just 2 metres of tarmac. It isn't. It's 2 metres of land taken by an industry, facilitated by our county council, and guarded by our police.

Several reasons were promoted today. The mere fact so many versions were proferred leaves us to sumise. Peaceful protest will continue


*Most moving part of the day for me was when I watched footage of two honourable Protectors at the site entrance who sat in dignity and peacefully refused to move – thankfully they were not harmed or arrested.

*Happy realisation:
by being at Maple Farm where there is no hill to climb... ample seating, a kettle and a toilet - some of the residents of the retirement park were at last able to join us in protest and others who can't normally stay too long for health reasons, were able to be here longer :) Also those with little ones have said they can come more often as there is a safe secure place to be.