Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
13 October 2017updated 09 Sep 2021 4:58pm

I’m the 85-year-old dragged away from a fracking protest – I want you to be angry

We have to fight against this ludicrous dash for gas that threatens our natural world.

By Anne Power

I am an 85-year-old woman, and I have been protesting fracking in Lancashire for four years. You might think this an unusual pastime for someone of my age. But I’ve been proud to be part of a community of Green Party members, local residents and anti-fracking campaigners, young and old, who week after week go to that very roadside.

We do it because we want the world to know we said no to the drills set to destroy our environment as they extract gas. The protests have been peaceful. They involve slowly walking in front of lorries taking away contaminated water, or standing or sitting in the road.

On Monday 9 October, I was sitting on the side of the road when I was astonished to see a heavy goods vehicle swerving towards me. It came extremely close, and with no police warning whatsoever I managed to retreat a little.

A young man standing next to me was hit in the chest by the vehicle, which continued unashamedly into the entrance of the site. That was when we made the decision to sit down in the bell mouth of the entrance. We felt extremely angry, and that several people could have been killed or seriously injured. This was when the police officers came over. I absolutely refused to move, and that’s when they decided to heave me off my seat and drag me across the road.

When I was a child, I saw police officers as friendly faces. I was taught they were to be respected and trusted. So it is with great sadness I say today that the only violence I have seen at the Preston New Road site has come from the police and security services – with aggression escalating week after week.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Friends who protest alongside me have been pinned to the ground by their neck, pushed against vehicles and frequently manhandled. It’s frightening. And it undermines the role of the police: to protect the public. Some police authorities are publicly refusing to help. North Wales has withdrawn reinforcements which were helping to police the site, with police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones saying: “Let them pay for their own security.”

Content from our partners
The truth about employability
Why we need a Minister for Citizen Experience
Powering careers that secure our net zero future

My brush with the police at Preston New Road shook me – but I am determined it will not stop me. On Wednesday 11 October, I returned to the site.

The community in Lancashire said no to fracking at every opportunity and we will continue to do so. We know we need to get off fossil fuels as quickly as we can to avert the worst effects of climate change, and we know fracking compromises our air, soil and water.

That’s why we campaigned to make sure Lancashire never granted Cuadrilla planning permission to drill our natural world. And it worked. The local authority denied permission for fracking, but Westminster ignored us, and waved the licence through anyway. Now Cuadrilla plans to start fracking by the end of the year. That’s why we’re coming out every single Monday to protest this ludicrous dash for gas that threatens our natural world, our climate and our future.

And we’re not alone. Over the summer, public support for fracking fell to an all-time low of 16 per cent. At the same time, renewable energy generation set a new record in UK this year, providing 30 per cent of electricity generated in second three months of the year, and the cost of onshore wind is falling fast.

So I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I want you to be angry. I want you to be angry at a company like Cuadrilla, which puts profit before local concerns about the environment. I want you to be angry at policing tactics which clamps down on the clear wishes of local people, and the right to protest. And I want you to be angry at a government which makes nice noises about the climate with one breath, and forces fracking on communities with the next.

They might have tried to bully me away, but they’ve just made me even more determined to end fracking for good. I’ll be there next Monday. I hope to see you there too.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “No complaint has been received about this matter but we will review our tactics, as we constantly do in any event, to ensure we are adhering to best practice. If anyone does wish to complain they can do so by visiting our website.”

A Cuadrilla spokeswoman said: “We work closely with all our suppliers to ensure that vehicles entering and leaving the site do so safely. We have seen numerous incidents of protesters endangering their own, lorry drivers’ and other road users’ safety by seeking to illegally block vehicles entering or leaving the site. The right to lawful protest does not and should not override others right to work safely and without harassment ”

Topics in this article :