Preston New Road

'I Have to See it Through to The End': One Lancashire Family's Two-Year Fight Against Fracking

Read time: 10 mins

As the protest at Preston New Road, Lancashire, marks its second anniversary, one mother and daughter look back on their unexpected transformation from a regular family into activists at the frontline of the UK’s anti-fracking movement.

I was flicking through the Blackpool Gazette when I saw a little community advert saying ‘Fracking in Blackpool’. I thought it said fucking,” Julie tells me.

You know when something catches your eye, like when something says ‘free’ or ‘sex’, and you can't help but look back? I phoned my sister, asking if she’d heard about it. I said whatever it is, it's dead in the water because it sounds too much like fucking. If it had been called ‘fluffy kittens’ we would have had a much tougher battle.”

Who Decides When Fracking Starts and Stops After an 'Earthquake'?

Read time: 7 mins
Fracking traffic lights system

For the second time in four days, fracking company Cuadrilla halted and restarted its fracking activities at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire because of seismic activity, leading to many “earthquake” headlines in the media.

But who decides when fracking needs to stop and can be restarted? DeSmog UK unpacks the monitoring and real-time decision-making process behind fracking.

Fracking Company Cuadrilla Breached Environmental Regulations Seven Times in 10 Months

Read time: 13 mins
Preston New Road fracking site

Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has breached environmental permits multiple times and failed to disclose full details of technical issues at its Lancashire site, a DeSmog UK investigation has found.

The company breached its environmental permits seven times in 10 months in 2017, analysis of Freedom of Information requests and publicly available Environment Agency Compliance Assessment Reports shows.

DeSmog UK’s investigation also uncovered a survey commissioned by the company that identified faults with a protective membrane, despite the company telling local residents it had never needed repairs.

'This is What People Power Looks Like' — A Fracking Campaigner's Account of the Preston New Road Climate Rally

Read time: 3 mins
Preston New Road fracking camp climate rally

By John Hobson, chair of campaign group Defend Lytham

It’s nearly 11 o’clock and people are arriving in droves at Maple Farm. Cars are lining up patiently and parking next door and coaches from faraway towns are disgorging dozens of smiling people onto the pavement outside.

This is what people power looks like. 

The atmosphere is electric. There is a palpable feeling that something is changing as it becomes clear that there are not just a couple of hundred people here, but nearer to 1,000.

Judicial Office Launches Investigation into Complaint over Fracking Judge with Alleged Oil and Gas Ties

Read time: 6 mins
Royal Courts of Justice

An investigation has been launched into allegations the judge who handed three fracking protesters “manifestly excessive” jail sentences has family ties to the oil and gas industry.

Judge Robert Altham sentenced Simon Blevins, Richard Roberts and Richard Loizou to up to 16 months in prison after they were convicted by a jury of causing a public nuisance offence. The protesters had their sentences quashed in an appeal case last week.  

Under the Judicial Code of Conduct, judges are expected to disclose personal relationships, social contacts and activities that could cause a bias or a conflict of interest and which put their impartiality into question.

Fracking Campaigners Freed As 'Manifestly Excessive' Jail Sentence Overturned

Read time: 5 mins

Three judges have quashed the prison sentence of the three anti-fracking protestors, ruling the sentence to be “manifestly excessive”. The court room erupted into applause, when the decision was announced.

Simon Blevins, Richard Roberts and Richard Loizou will walk out free of Preston prison in Lancashire this evening and go home to their families.

The appeal case was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday morning in a packed court room with Blevins, Roberts and Loizou appearing through a video link from Preston prison.

'They Are Not Criminals, They Are Heroes': Campaigners Gather at London Court for Appeal Against 'Excessive' Sentences of Anti-Fracking Protesters

Read time: 6 mins
Campaigners against fracking at Royal Courts of Justice, London

Environmental campaigners converged on the Royal Courts of Justice in support of an appeal against the “excessive” sentencing of three anti-fracking protestors, warning that the case could set “a dangerous precedent that punishes environmental protestors for their beliefs”.

Dozens of campaigners carrying the red rose of Lancashire gathered in front of the court on Wednesday morning to show their support for the appeal case and denounced the sentencing of the three men as “disproportionate”.

The Day Fracking Protest Became a Jailable Offence — In Pictures

Read time: 2 mins
protestors lie in front of lorries

On Tuesday 25 July 2017, four protestors stopped a convoy of lorries going to a fracking site in Lancashire. Today, three of the activists were sentenced to custodial sentences.

Residents of Little Plumpton have been fighting Cuadrilla Resources' plans for years. What started as a handful of local residents bemused that a new fossil fuel industry was about to start in their village escalated into a resistance of national symbolic importance

Today's ruling represents a trend of escalation between environmental protestors and the police — from mass arrests of Dakota Access pipeline protestors in the US, to UK police abusing their powers when going undercover in environmental movements, and mass online surveillance of fracking activists via Facebook.

UK Councils Invest Billions in Fracking, Including Companies Tied to Donald Trump

Read time: 6 mins
Fracking sign at Preston New Road

Council pension funds across the UK have invested billions in companies involved with fracking, new data claims. Authorities in areas where the controversial practice is set to take place also have millions invested such companies.

Some of the funds also have investments in companies with close ties to members of President Trump’s administration, which is currently embarking on a major climate and environmental regulation roll-back.

Government Recruits Fracking Commissioner to 'Facilitate Communication' With Residents

Read time: 5 mins
Preston New Road site

The UK government is recruiting a shale gas commissioner to “facilitate communication” with residents and push what is sees as the benefits of a new fossil fuel industry. The position was announced days before the government gave the go-ahead for fracking to start in Lancashire.

The new role of shale commissioner has been described by the government as “an independent appointment” which will have no powers of enforcement or investigation but will aim to “improve local understanding of shale gas operations by directing concerned local parties to relevant and impartial fact based information”.

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