At 6am this morning a big orange coach blockaded the gates of the IGas exploratory drilling site at Barton Moss, with four anti-fracking protesters locked on to the vehicle.
Inside the bus one protester had a sign reading `Do Not Open This Door You Will Break My Leg!!!', another was locked on to the steering wheel. A third protester was locked on to the underneath of the vehicle, while a fourth was on the roof.
The coach windows were festooned with messages like `Happy Fracking Christmas' and `Keep Calm and Block the Drill', while another gave support to Salford music legend Markus De Rawkus, who was arrested on Saturday morning at his house in Irlam and bailed to keep away from the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp.
Bemused officers from Greater Manchester Police called in their `Protestor Removal Team' (spelt wrong!) and, after over six hours, all four protesters were removed and the bus was towed away – allowing a huge convoy of deliveries to be made to the IGas site, after more `Salford Shuffle' slow walking protests.
"We were very surprised and happy to see the arrival of the coach and we were really impressed by the people who locked on with such bravery and skill, it was a very successful action" said Tim from the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp.
The action wasn't taken by any particular group, as he explained… "What makes this anti-fracking campaign unique is that there is no fixed organisations, it's individual actions taken by people in an autonomous way.
"There are no leaders, there's no centre, people just move because they feel they want to move and this is what happened this morning" he added "We're just very sad that all the drill has arrived and we don't know what's going to happen.
"We have serious doubts about the well head itself, we've got strong reports that it might have been flooded in which case already the integrity of the cement may well be in doubt" he said "These people push on blindly like they did up in Blackpool but there's no regulations for this so we don't know what's going on. But we will continue to fight and we call on everyone to support us.
"We're all activists now and if we're going to stop this across the north west and the whole country - bearing in mind that 64% of the land is under licence - then it's going to have to be everyone getting out and making a protest" he concluded "We have to do this for the land and future generations and preservation of the water, the air and our earth. This is beyond party politics, beyond the north south divide and everything that has separated us in the past."
Following the action, three of the big orange bus campaigners were arrested but Tim said the police had acted fairly...
"The police have made a great effort to facilitate our protest and they've been talking with us because they do not want to be seen curtailing the right of British citizens to make protests" he explained "We are legal, we are peaceful and we are protesting against something that is conceivably ecocidal, and the police, in this instance, have been trying very hard in this instance to give us a fair protest which, in my opinion, they have done."
The Big Orange Bus Blockade follows the huge windmill blade early Christmas present to IGas from protesters earlier this week - see previous Salford Star article - click here
Update: 9:30pm 18th December:
Greater Manchester Police `Protestor Removal Team' wins Salford Star spelling award - click here