Activists from environmental group Extinction Rebellion have blocked the entrance to the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire, owned by British oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla.

The activists blocked the entrance to the site on 10 September 2019 using a boat bearing the words “Planet before profit,” criticising Cuadrilla’s efforts to expand fracking in the UK through the development of the Preston New Road site and highlighting the environmental risks of fracking.

The protest follows the suspension of fracking activity at Preston New Road on 22 August 2019 after an earth tremor was detected on the site measuring 1.55ML on the Richter scale, higher than the previously recorded 1.5ML tremor at the site and in breach of the UK government’s 0.5ML threshold on seismic activity.

In a statement, Extinction Rebellion said: “We will stand with those communities which have tenaciously and peacefully resisted this for years. They have sought to defend against the threat fracking poses to their air and water, their health, their land, including their homes, as demonstrated by the recent tremors.

“There is a yawning chasm between words and deeds. The science is clear: the world must move urgently away from a system of ever-increasing consumption and destruction, totally founded and dependent on fossil fuels.”

In response to the protest action, Cuadrilla said: “We are aware of an ongoing protest outside our shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, Lancashire. This is not impacting on operations.

“We have no objection to peaceful, law abiding protest whilst recognising that our neighbours, motorists using the busy road and our staff and contractors should also be able to go about their business without disruption, inconvenience or intimidation.

“We would like to add that we are exploring for shale gas at Preston New Road to establish a domestic energy supply that the UK really needs. The Bowland Shale as a whole could be a very important resource for Lancashire and the UK and, whilst hydraulic fracturing is currently suspended, we would like to continue with our work to prove this.”

The UK government authorised the resumption of fracking at Preston New Road on 15 August 2019 as part of a show of support for fracking, which may include a shift to relax fracking regulations.

Cuadrilla said: “To reach net zero by 2050 the Committee on Climate Change is clear that the UK will need about 70 per cent of the natural gas that we are using today, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage for electricity and as a feedstock for the manufacture of hydrogen.

“Natural gas is recognised by the experts to be an important part of the solution. We intend to be a part of that solution in providing lower emission UK shale gas to replace higher emission imported gas whilst also generating local jobs and economic benefit.”

However, recent research carried out at Nottingham University suggests that fracking in the UK is less viable than previously assumed due to shale reserves being significantly smaller than originally expected.