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  1. ITV Report

Protesters: Fracking fight just got serious

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Fracking protesters have said their fight has just "got serious" after the controversial process got under way in Lancashire.

Police closed off Preston New Road in Little Plumpton on Monday morning as about 50 protesters gathered outside energy firm Cuadrilla's site ahead of the start of the hydraulic fracturing process.

A police team had to cut a man and woman out of a set of tyres which they had apparently cemented their arms into.

Fracking is the process that involves drilling into the ground, then pumping in water and chemicals to release gas.

Ginette Evans, 60, from Fleetwood, said: “We’ll be monitoring the site 24 hours a day. It is definitely not over, it has just got serious.

“The fight’s just really started.”

She said there was a mood of disappointment among protesters.

She added: “I’m gutted really. It’s such a dangerous industry and it shouldn’t be here.”

One activist sat on top of a van outside the site with a banner which read “Stop the Start” while another lay down in front of railings.

How shale gas is extracted. Credit: PA Graphics

Justin Vanparys, 47, from Blackburn, said: “Fossil fuels should stay in the ground. We have already got global warming.”

He said activists had not been listened to but added: “That just makes you come back even stronger.”

The work had been due to start on Saturday but was delayed by the effects of Storm Callum.

It followed an environmental campaigner failing in a bid to halt the work at the High Court on Friday.

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A spokesman for Cuadrilla said on Saturday: “Due to the weather conditions yesterday afternoon and this morning, we will now start pumping on Monday.

“In high winds we couldn’t use the crane to manoeuvre some equipment into place.”

At a hearing in London on Friday, Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed Bob Dennett’s application for an injunction preventing the company from fracking the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well pending his proposed legal challenge.

Fracking protesters outside energy firm Cuadrilla's site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton. Credit: Press Association

Mr Dennett claimed Lancashire County Council’s emergency response planning and procedures at the site were inadequate, but the judge ruled there was not a “serious issue” to be tried which would justify an interim order.

In a statement after the ruling, Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned. We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire.

“If commercially recoverable, this will displace costly imported gas with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK.”