Protestors chained themselves to a site in Chesterfield in the early hours of the morning in protest against the controversial hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ process used to extract shale gas.
Twenty members of the group Frack Off targeted a site owned by PR Marriott, a contractor for shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources which is drilling at several locations including one near Blackpool.
Four protestors locked themselves by the neck with d-locks – more commonly used for bicycles – to a gate at the entrance to the site, where a drilling rig was being stored. Police say the protestors had been moved along by midday.
The protestors said they were concerned the “scale” of fracking now expected in the UK could result in “the total industrialisation of the British countryside”.
Elsie Walker, from Frack Off said: “The scale of development proposed is being completely ignored. Cuadrilla wants to drill 800 wells in Lancashire alone… There are several companies going after several types of unconventional gas in the UK and all potentially on a similar scale to Cuadrilla.”
PR Marriott, which employs around 50 people at its Chesterfield site, said in a statement: “Despite the best attempts of the protestors to damage this British business, access to the site has been gained and work has all but returned to normal”.
This is not the first time shale gas exploration has been targeted in the UK, as in December last year Cuadrilla’s drilling operations were disrupted when activists broke into their Blackpool site and attached themselves to machinery.
Fracking has attracted criticism from environmentalists who worry the process – which blasts a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into the ground to force open cracks in shale rock and let gas flow out freely – could contaminate groundwater.
An independent report commissioned by Cuadrilla found it was “highly probable” fracking caused a series of tremors near Blackpool last year.
The UK Government has given the process the go-ahead following an investigation into its environmental impact.