Lancashire

Fracking protests: Supplier ends contract in 'bullying' row

Anti-fracking protest
Image caption Anti-fracking protesters dismissed Cuadrilla's bullying claims as "nonsense"

A supplier to the UK's first horizontal fracking site has pulled out amid claims of "bullying" by protesters.

Concrete firm Moore Readymix terminated a contract with Cuadrilla to supply the Preston New Road site following a "blockade" at its depot.

Cuadrilla condemned "intimidation" of its suppliers by "hard line activists". Moore Readymix declined to comment.

Frack Free Lancashire denied any bullying saying its members had a right to protest "within the law".

The campaign group - which claims extracting shale gas is harmful to the environment - said Cuadrilla's allegations were "nonsense" and "completely unfounded".

A spokesman said: "There is no intimidation or bullying by protesters who are merely exercising their democratic right to protest within the law."

Image caption The Little Plumpton site at Preston New Road is situated between Blackpool and Preston

The government approved energy firm Cuadrilla's plans to frack at the Preston New Road, Little Plumpton in October last year.

An application by the firm to frack at a second Lancashire site in Roseacre Wood has been rejected.

'Browbeaten'

Francis Egan, chief executive officer of Cuadrilla said he "empathised" with suppliers who have decided to withdraw but he said its main contractors "will not be browbeaten" by a small group of "irresponsible bullies".

He added: "Lancashire jobs and revenue opportunities are at stake and we will not allow activists to rob the county of those."

Police said there was a "minor collision" between a protester and a Mitsubishi vehicle at the demonstration at Moore Readymix' in St Annes earlier.

The injured party received "very minor injuries" and the driver has been spoken to but not been arrested, said police.

Protests have been held at the Preston New Road site since work started on 5 January.

Four people were charged with breaching public order on Wednesday after demonstrators locked themselves to each other.

What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock. But how does it work and why is it controversial?

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Media captionThe BBC's David Shukman explains how fracking works

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