Anti-fracking protesters were preventing a seismic testing company from leaving a potential fracking site during Friday afternoon.
Cheshire Police were called after a blockade of vehicles was set up off Duttons Lane in Upton.
Members of Frack Free Upton claimed tractors and Land Rovers near the anti-fracking protest camp didn't have consent to use a newly-laid farm track but the farmer who owned the land insists this was unnecessary.
He said it was ‘pure coincidence’ the track was laid recently as a cow track and 'convenient' but pointed out the all terrain vehicles did not need a reinforced road to operate.
Farmer Peers Dutton told The Chronicle: “Pardon the pun, but they are completely on the wrong track!”
Mr Dutton explained that energy firm IGas had options on his land but there was no planning application for a hydraulic fracturing operation and such an application may never come forward.
He understood seismic testing was not related to the Upton site but was ongoing across the country within all IGas licensed areas.
The farmer said relations with camp residents were generally fine.
“I don’t have a problem with them on a day-to-day basis,” he commented. “The cows graze up to the camp.”
Staff from testing company Tesla, who remained stuck on the field at time of publication, were in good spirits but not prepared to talk to The Chronicle. A response is awaited from head office. IGas has also been contacted but nobody was available during Friday afternoon.
Anti-fracking Labour councillor Matt Bryan (Upton) said: “This road was built legally two weeks ago by the farmer which didn’t need planning permission because it fell under agricultural permissions but as we’ve seen today we are surrounded by seismic testing companies laying explosive charges to commence seismic testing in this area.”
Cllr Bryan, who had a terse discussion with a police officer, claimed he didn’t need the farmer’s permission to be on site. The only offence he believed could have been committed was aggravated trespass but this ‘doesn’t apply’ in the circumstances.
Protesting grandmother Lorraine Mellor, from Upton, told The Chronicle: “We don’t want to have fracking so close to where we live. There are six schools within a mile and lots of children and Upton is a big development of houses. Also we’ve got the zoo here and they don’t want fracking here because they know it’s not safe. I’ve never done anything like this in my life before but I’m a grandma and I feel very worried for my grandson when he grows up.”
Mrs Mellor has been involved in collecting about 2,000 survey returns from residents living near the site.
She said: “Most of the people that we’ve talked to in Upton do not want fracking. They don’t want it at all. They think it’s too close. Only a minority have said ‘Yes’. At the last count it was, I think, 96% against and 4% in favour of the ones we found in at the time.”
Cheshire Police spokesman Will Harris said: “At 3.07pm, Cheshire police were called to Duttons Lane in Upton, Chester following reports that a group of protestors were stopping vehicles from using the road. Officers are currently at the scene speaking to both parties in an effort to bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion.”
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