‘I’m a Celebrity...Get Fracking Out of Here’ could have been the slogan when fashion designer Vivienne Westwood joined Bez of Happy Mondays in a muddy field on the outskirts of Chester to lend support to the anti-fracking cause.
And Dame Vivienne, 74, who was making a return visit to the camp off Duttons Lane, Upton, arrived in style when she was given a ride on a Russian-made motorbike and sidecar driven by Andrew Kinnear of Guilden Sutton.
She and Bez, accompanied by anti-fracking women from Lancashire called The Nanas, want to raise awareness around the camp which was established to prevent the drilling of a coalbed methane borehole at the site but now faces being removed on December 4 due to a court eviction order.
Activists worry test drilling by energy firm IGas could lead to the controversial gas extraction method known as fracking with fears about possible air and water pollution as well as earthquakes.
Aside from the fun, Vivienne, who was accompanied by her son Joe Corré, founder of lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, urged the people of Chester and Upton to get down to the camp when the bailiffs arrive.
“We need support from as many people as possible,” she said. “And by the way, you people of Upton, you’re the nearest, you’d better come. You’ve got to come for your own sake!”
Vivienne and her son were welcomed with hugs and thank yous from camp residents and locals for their ongoing support.
Preparations are being made to turn the camp into a fortress with evidence of work underway to build fences and reinforcements. Vivienne said she would not be around on possible eviction day as she will be in France campaigning at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21) – driven by her commitment to prevent environmental Armageddon.
Bez was also welcomed with like an old friend, including by some who remembered him from the Manchester rave scene, although Bez candidly admitted his memories of the ‘Hacienda days’ were ‘hazy’.
He told The Chronicle he got involved with the anti-fracking movement when there was a campaign at Barton Moss in Salford on his home patch.
Bez, real name Mark Berry, said: “If we destroy our land for our future generations then how are we going to take care of ourselves? How are we going to feed our kids? How are we going to give them drinking water?”
IGas spokesman David Petrie said: “We respect the right to peaceful protest. However it has been made clear to the protesters they are on our site illegally and without consent. Having recently taken ownership of the lease for the site, we expect the protesters to cease occupation and leave peacefully.”