Dozens of anti-fracking protesters are spending their summer blockading sites by chaining themselves to fences, laying in roads and climbing on vehicles.
Environmental campaigners, including some local councillors, are targeting several shale gas “exploration” points across Lancashire because they say the government is failing to listen to residents.
Activists from the Reclaim The Power lobby group holed up in their cars with concrete tubes on their arms on Thursday morning, near a site on Preston New Road, Blackpool, after developer Cuadrilla took delivery of specialist equipment for the controversial practice.
One of the protesters said: “We have taken action today because fracking will contaminate our drinking water, pollute the air we breathe and yet provide hardly any jobs for local people because one third of the workforce will come from the USA and most of the rest will be brought in from other parts of the UK.”
The action is part of the group’s Rolling Resistance campaign which aims to disrupt work at the Lancashire fracking site every day in July.
The site was refused planning permission by Lancashire Council in 2015, but permission was later granted following an appeal and a planning inquiry.
In April, campaign groups lost a High Court action to overturn the decision and during the 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 has planning permission for.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said: “We are very pleased to have taken delivery of the drilling rig to our shale gas exploration site.
“The drilling of the first horizontal exploration wells into UK shale rock will be an important milestone in unlocking a vital new source of natural gas for the country.
“With the decline of North Sea gas and our ever increasing reliance on gas imports, including shale gas imported from the US, developing an indigenous source of natural gas is critical for UK energy security, our economy, jobs and the environment.
“We are proud as a Lancashire company to be at the forefront of that effort.”
Polly Steiner, Friends of the Earth’s north west regional campaigner, said: “Democracy hasn’t counted for much in Lancashire and we won’t just lie down and be a test case for an industry that has been stopped around the UK and the world due to the risks.
“A piece of machinery may be on site but the only thing that’s changed is opposition will get stronger as the community vows to keep fighting.
“Despite the best efforts of the industry to convince us otherwise, two-thirds of people in Lancashire are still against fracking.”
Lancashire Police put officers on the ground at the site “to ensure safety and minimise disruption”.
Superintendent Richard Robertshaw said: “A contraflow has been in place on the road for the past two days due to protesters climbing on top of seven trucks, four of which were moved on successfully during this morning’s operation. Police are still currently dealing with the other three.”