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‘It’s a battle for our democratic rights’

Activists picket ‘secret’ gas summit after fracking ban overturned

ANTI-FRACKING campaigners will today target oil company bosses who have flown into Manchester from the US and Canada for a “secret” UK shale gas summit.

Campaigners from Frack Free Greater Manchester (FFGM), Manchester Friends of the Earth and Manchester Greenpeace have united to deliver their message to the oil bosses during the two-day conference and, despite the venue being kept secret until this morning, FFGM says it “is confident it will be able to locate the event for the protest.”

FFGM spokeswoman Jenny Ross said: “The purpose of the peaceful protest is to remind the fracking industry that they have no social licence to operate in the UK, five days after the Secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javid took the unprecedented step of green-lighting Cuadrilla’s application to hydraulically fracture wells at Preston New Road (Fylde), overturning Lancashire County Council’s decision to deny the application.

“This is no longer a battle against fracking, it’s a battle for our democratic rights.

“If central government sets a precedent that any local decision it doesn’t like it can simply overturn, then where will that end? Government is supposed to amplify the voices of local people, not ignore them.

“For the government to disenfranchise the people of Lancashire by pretending this decision is of national importance is a meritless pretence.”

Fracking involves drilling into shale strata deep underground, pumping in a toxic mixture of chemicals and water at high pressure to release gas.

Opponents say the process causes water and air pollution, can damage the health of animals and humans and even cause earthquakes. It also brings disruption through industrial traffic.

Rural areas are being targeted for fracking operations, particularly in northern England threatening to bring what opponents describe as “industrialisation of the countryside.”

More than 500 anti-fracking groups are now campaigning in Britain. Manchester Greenpeace Network’s Martin Potter said: “Every community threatened by shale gas has revolted, and Lancashire is no exception.”

He called for greater government investment in renewable energy to replace plans to implement fracking.

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