"Don't sit at home on Facebook hitting `Like', get off your arse and show my child there's a future" Helen
Around four hundred people flocked to Barton Moss yesterday in support of the Barton Community Protection Camp, set up in opposition to fracking company IGas and its exploratory drilling site for coal bed methane and more.
The day began with a rally featuring speakers from an array of political parties, trade unions and campaign groups – ranging from Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, to the Green Party, to the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union, whose vice president, John Fox, announced that it was the first union to have an anti-fracking policy.
Individuals spoke too - Dan from the Camp, a guy called Cosmic Tim - who said that "everyone is an activist now…it's about being called into action by a force that doesn't need a name" – and Helen, holding her baby, who implored those not involved to get involved…
"I don't want my child to live on a sick and poisoned earth" she said "This is an awakening time for those of us who know we are being lied to… Don't sit at home on Facebook hitting `Like' - get off your arse and show my child there's a future."
Called by the Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group, many trade union banners were present including UNISON, UCU, PCS and the Salford and Manchester Trades Council, while solidarity greetings were read out on stage from the RMT and PCS.
One of the most emotional speeches was by Labour councillor Gail Hodson, also a member of Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, who called for the Labour Party to get off the fence and oppose the industry…
"There are a lot of Labour people who are against fracking and my message today is to lobby your Labour councillors, lobby anyone in a position of authority" she said "Labour has got to come off the fence on this one."
She warned that when fracking company Cuadrilla moved into the Ribble Estuary area councillors were already on board with the plans and decisions had already been made.
The Salford Star did not see one single Salford councillor - Labour or Tory - at the rally yesterday.
Gail's sentiments were echoed by Paul Gerrard of Salford Against The Cuts, who had a missive for Salford City Mayor Ian Stewart who has been tweeting for campaigners to "calm down"…
"We're used to standing outside Salford Civic Centre saying `Labour must fight the cuts'" said Paul "The message from this rally has got to come today – `Ian Stewart – No more cuts and no more permits either…no permits for fracking in this city'."
Speaker after speaker debunked what they said was the myth of fracking bringing jobs and cheap energy to the city and beyond.
"Our biggest enemy are the lies misinformation and marketing they use to conceal what they are going to do" said Tina from Residents Action on Flylde Fracking "Two years ago I read a leaflet by Cuadrilla that said there would be cheap, home grown, natural gas, loads of jobs for workers, loads of cash for the economy and I thought `Wow!'…Then I read the rest of the brochure and realised it was all lies and bull."
Other speakers put forward the alternative. Stephen Hall, President of Greater Manchester Trades Council, held up a booklet called One Million Climate Jobs, which implores a new outlook on renewable energy…
"The worst thing that could happen" he explained "is that we'll create one million jobs, and get a third of our unemployed to work doing radical things like insulating people's homes, developing tidal power…a much better approach, that is the alternative."
Martin, from the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group backed the alternative and spoke of a front line against fracking that "starts in Alberta, goes down into North America with the pipelines that Obama for which has given the go ahead, through Romania, through Balcombe and Salford and it's going to go to hundreds of communities around Britain unless we stop them."
Indeed, at yesterday's rally, placards were being held in solidarity with Pungesti in Romania where police are brutally repressing protesters opposed to Chevron's fracking.
Backing the Pungesti campaign and telling the crowd that people all over the world who are fighting fracking are in touch with each other, Judy Paskell from the Campaign Against Climate Change, said that, in the north of England, Barton Moss and Salford was now the front line in the fight against fracking…
"We are the front line right here" she said "Not just against IGas and other companies but also in the fight against the Tory Government halving the tax for the fracking companies."
Following the speeches, there was a one minute silence for Nelson Mandela and then a march up Barton Moss Road, led by the PCS band, past the Camp and up to the gates of the IGas drilling site, where the company personnel present were left in no doubt about what people thought of their actions.
With the PCS band beating out a rhythm, campaigners were introduced to the Salford Delaying Dance, enacted every time IGas lorries try to deliver equipment to the site. It's a dance that moves about a quarter of an inch every minute and has, so far, been successful in holding up deliveries for over two hours per time despite the heavy police presence.
The idea is that time costs money and to hit IGas in its pockets, a point made by Camp fracking expert Ian R Crane …
"Andrew Austin holds 10.67million stocks in IGas" he explained "Every time the stock in IGas goes down by one pound he loses £10.67million and my objective it to see that absolutely tank."
He urged the local community and campaigners to attend an IGas "misinformation" evening at Boysnope Golf Club this Thursday 12th December at 6:30pm to show the strength of feeling against gas drilling in Salford…
Main photo shows Labour councillor Gail Hodson at the protest
Update: 11:30am 9th December
Reports are coming in of `five violent snatch arrests' made at this morning's protest... "Toppled to the ground and dragged off the peaceful march" the Camp tweeted "Most heavy handed policing we have seen for some time" - for updated report and video footage - click here