Campaigners living on an anti-fracking camp near Chester have issued a humorous Christmas message of ‘No well, no well’ as the countdown to eviction begins in earnest.
“If we get through to the new year I’ll be surprised,” said camp resident Phil Whyte who, along with fellow activists, is determined to stop IGas drilling an exploratory coalbed methane well because of fears over the environmental impact.
Phil said the police liaison officers had introduced themselves at the front gate but were informed they were not welcome because of a previous experience when bailiffs arrived on site.
Police 'told to leave'
He said: ”They got told to leave. Nobody wants to speak to them. They (Cheshire Police) facilitated the bailiffs the last time.”
The Conservative government was elected on a pro-fracking stance but Phil does not agree there is a democratic mandate for the energy company to carry out its work backed up by law enforcement agents.
Referring to a door-to-door survey conducted by the campaigners, he added: “It’s not democratically decided at all because 85% of Upton says ‘no’. If it’s democratic it would not happen and, not only that, the police have got to remember the oath they sign, which is to the people not to the government.”
A Cheshire Constabulary spokesman said in response: "Cheshire Police are impartial, are role is to uphold all lawful rights. Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest, whilst ensuring that others can continue with their legitimate business unhindered."
Campaigner Phil said everyone on camp was on ‘high alert’ but the festive spirit was alive and well with people ‘singing and dancing’ and being treated to some ‘fantastic cooking’. He said there were about 50 people currently on site and ‘even more coming soon’.
Talking about preparations for non-violent resistance on eviction day, Phil explained: “We’ve got tunnels all over the place, we’ve got tree houses, we’ve got lock-ons – a lock-on can be anything from a barrel full of concrete that you lock onto with your arm – we’ve got plenty of what we call defences in place.
'Tired but determined'
"More importantly we’ve got people who are determined even though they’re tired. Even though they’re tired they’re still to determined not to allow them to frack on this land.”
Text and Facebook alerts will sent around once the bailiffs arrive with a call for supporters to join camp residents in refusing to move from the site.
IGas spokesman David Petrie said in a previous statement: “We respect the right to peaceful protest however it has been made clear to the protestors they are on our site illegally and without consent. Having recently taken ownership of the lease for the site, we expect the protestors to cease occupation and leave peacefully.”