Green Party chiefs Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley spent an afternoon with fracking protesters who have previously climbed on vehicles and chained themselves to concrete bollards.
The co-leaders visited a shale gas “exploration” site near Preston New Road, Lancashire, which environmental campaigners have been blockading for months on end after accusing the government of “failing to listen to residents”, leading to a number of arrests.
Fracking firm Cuadrilla moved specialist equipment into the area in July, after a local council decision to refuse them permission to drill for gas was overturned by the High Court.
Protesters claim the work will “contaminate drinking water, pollute the air and provide hardly any jobs”, as much of the workforce will be drafted in from the USA.
Bartley said it was “an honour” to join the activists, many of whom are lifelong Green Party members.
“Fracking is dirty, dangerous and expensive,” Bartley said.
“It contaminates local air, water and soil and the community in Lancashire said they didn’t want it.
“Instead of overriding their wishes and destroying our climate commitments in the process by drilling for gas we should be investing in renewable energy for the future.”
Latest figures show the cost of some forms of renewable energy have fallen sharply in recent years, leading to calls to scrap less environmentally-friendly practices.
Lucas said she had joined the protests “because it’s abundantly clear that fracking is a dirty, destructive industry that will wreck the UK’s climate ambitions and leave us dependent on fossil fuels for years to come”.
“We know that the price of renewables is dropping fast, and it’s high time that the government stop their reckless dash for gas and focus on making Britain into a world leader in modern, clean energy from the sun, wind and sea,” she added.
During the 2017 general election campaign, the Conservatives said they wanted to see a “fracking revolution” in the UK, with the hope of boosting the economy.
Cuadrilla said it plans this year to drill two of the four horizontal shale gas explorations wells it currently has planning permission for.