In the latest action against the UK fracking industry, campaigners are getting ready to pedal towards a frack-free future, in a 50 mile bike ride from Manchester to Blackpool.
Hosted by Reclaim the Power and Time to Cycle, the demonstration is part of the Rolling Resistance, a month of action to stop the fracking industry from getting a free ride. Alongside daily action outside the site, a family day and mass demonstrations have already taken place.
Starting in central Manchester on 20 July 2017, the anti-fracking cyclists will cross the finish line at the Camp of New Hope at Preston New Road, and join the front line resistance against Cuadrilla’s fracking operations.
Protesters have been stationed at Preston New Road since January 2017, when drilling firm Cuadrilla started work. If fracking at this Lancashire site goes ahead, it will be the first well to be fracked in the UK since 2011.
Lancashire County Council initially turned down Cuadrilla’s planning application, but this was overturned by communities secretary Sajid Javid in October 2016.
Local resident Jules Dawson, who will be taking part in the demonstration, said: “I’m joining the ride to stand with the people of Lancashire in saying no to fracking and yes to investment in cleaner, safer, cheaper renewable alternatives.”
The Rolling Resistance Bike Ride will visit local sites of fossil fuel resistance. One of those sites is Barton Moss in Salford, where iGas Energy embarked on exploratory drilling between October 2013 and March 2014. A community protection camp and daily protests challenged iGas, slowing down the trucks as they made their way into the site.
The group marched through Manchester, locked onto trucks and camped out in severe weather. Renewable energy even made an appearance in the demonstrations, as protesters blocked the drilling site entrance with a wind turbine blade.
Along the road to the Camp of New Hope, the rolling demonstration will also stop in Bolton, a site of victory in the fracking resistance tour. This is where protesters campaigned outside the base of a civil engineering company, who were involved in a fracking project.
Environmental concerns are at the heart of anti-fracking groups. During the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process, a mixture of water, sand and chemicals are injected into shale rock, which has the potential to contaminate groundwater with chemicals. Transporting vast amounts of water to the fracking site in the first place also sees the arrival of increased traffic.
A study has shown that fracking has an impact on the earth’s surface, and can contribute to earthquakes. Satellite images show the Earth’s surface buckling slightly near the site of the 2012 Timpson earthquake in Texas, which was close to a fracking site.
In the UK, fracking work was halted when tremors were felt in Blackpool. It is thought that injecting fracking waste water at high pressure is causing these quakes.