Fracking firm claims protesters are to blame for speed limit

Fracking protesters at Preston New Road
Fracking protesters at Preston New Road

Supporters of fracking have blamed protesters for a new slow speed limit being applied to a busy main road into Blackpool.

Lancashire County Council is moving to drop the speed limit on Preston New Road at Little Plumpton where Cuadrilla is building a gas drilling pad from 50mph to 20mph.

It said it was to improve safety for drivers, police, protestors, and vehicles accessing the site.

But Cuadrilla and pro-shale campaign group Lancashire For Shale have blamed the protesters for the imposition of the speed brake.

A spokesman for Lancashire For Shale said: “Lancashire County Council is right to act, but it is important to remember that this is only necessary because of the behaviour of some anti-fracking protestors that can regularly be seen walking in the road, weaving in and out of traffic and distracting motorists.

“It is worth noting that construction activities further along Preston New Road have not required changes to the speed limit, where Barratt and Story Homes are busy building two large adjacent housing developments. The only real difference there is the absence of protestors.”

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We understand Lancashire County Council’s decision and their intent to minimise the danger posed by the behaviour of some activists in the vicinity of our exploration site on Preston New Road.”

The new speed limit, which will be advisory at first until new signs have been created and legal procedure followed will mean a 30mph speed limit from 600m either side of the drill site with a 20mph zone 400m each side within this.

It has been welcomed by opponents of fracking who blame Cuadrilla for the issue.

Pam Foster from RAFF stated: “Since work started at the Preston New road site, we have been constantly highlighting the potential for serious accidents to the police.

“With large wagons continually entering and leaving the site the current 50 mph speed limit is far too dangerous.

“As the number of wagons will increase substantially over the coming weeks and months, these new traffic measures are to be welcomed for the safety of the public. The new speed limit will also hopefully prevent the police from closing the road unnecessarily and further holding up people on their journeys. While welcoming the new safety measures, the unsuitability and dangers of this road for heavy wagons was made clear at last year’s planning inquiry.”

Maureen Mills, from Halsall Against Fracking, said: “As a result of a much welcome visit to the site by the portfolio holder, Coun John Fillis, for highways, a sensible speed management scheme has been agreed.

“The actual experience has shown from day one, that creating access to a site and the construction traffic requiring access from a major road such as the A583 requires greater consideration than was given in the planning process.”