Over 2,500 people marched from Piccadilly, through Manchester city centre, to Castlefield this afternoon to oppose fracking and send a message, not only to the Tory Government but also to Donald Trump, that the world stood United Against Fracking.
Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger joined the march, alongside the `Nanas' from Lancashire who are on the current front line of fracking, with the Government overruling local democracy to impose permission for fossil fuel company Cuadrilla to begin the controversial industry on their doorstep.
"I'm not here only as the founder and president of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation but I am here because I am a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother and I believe, like you do, that fracking is a threat to our way of life, to our water sources, to the air we breathe and to the environment" Bianca told a huge rally in Castlefield after the march
"It is time for the Government of the UK to stop their relationship to the oil and gas industry" she added "Fracking is not a panacea as they have been telling us. What is extraordinary is that you have countries throughout Europe, you have states in the US like New York that have banned fracking but this Government continues to sell us down the river. And that is why I'm here, to tell you that you are not alone...
"I am with you and there are millions of people throughout the country that support your struggle and we will defeat the fracking industry" she explained "Don't accept the relationships of the Government that makes them overrule the rights and the voices of the people
"The Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation did a report about how fracking violates our fundamental rights – our rights to life, our rights to water, our rights to air, our rights to a healthy environment, and for that reason we cannot give up" she said "We must stand together against them; we must tell them `No more fracking'... and we must let the world and the people in this country understand that we will do anything that will defeat Cuadrilla and the fracking industry...We will defeat them and they have to listen to us. Theresa May must understand that the people of this country are serious..."
Speaking to the Salford Star after her speech, Bianca Jagger also had a message for Salford City Council, which has still not come out against fracking, despite massive local opposition at Barton Moss recently, and despite other local councils passing anti-fracking motions...
"The local council has role to play" she insisted "You can say no to the fracking industry and you can listen to the concerns of the people who feel that fracking presents a threat to their livelihoods, their water courses, to the air they breathe and to the environment."
Meanwhile, Labour Party Greater Manchester Mayor candidate, Andy Burnham, promised to make a stand against fracking in the region if he gets elected next May...
"I am the MP for Leigh, a former mining area, and I have seen myself the consequences of fossil fuel extraction; the damage to the land, the damage to people's health" he told the Castlefield rally "I was surprised to find that there were licences for fracking in Leigh, and at that point I had a very firm view about it; I was clear that I couldn't support it because I saw the links to our geology, to our ground water, to our green spaces.
"If I can't support fracking in Leigh, then I can't support it in Greater Manchester, I can't support it anywhere" he added "What worries me is the way that Westminster has taken powers to impose it, pretty much, on local people, and in the current political climate how can that possibly be right - that Westminster rides roughshod over local concerns?
"These fantastic campaigners from Lancashire - how can it be right that their voice can be taken away by a Government that's too close to the vested interests of big business and has rigged the law in their favour?" he asked "How can that be right? It can't be right. That's what George Osborne and the Tories have done, taking their public for granted, taking the say off local people, and we want to stand up against it. I will stand up against it if I am elected Mayor of Greater Manchester."
While Burnham said he will oppose fracking, he admitted that "The law as it stands doesn't give me the power to ban it. But what I can say to you all today is that I would have a position of opposition at a Greater Manchester level, and the message will go out from Greater Manchester that it is not going to come here without a fight. If it's not good enough for New York, and if it's not good enough for many places in the United States then it's not good enough for Greater Manchester either."
He also had a message for "that Trump fella" in the United States... "`You know Mr Trump, climate change is real and fracking does not help'....
"If I am elected as Mayor of Greater Manchester next year I will be a Mayor for the people not for big business" he concluded "I want a Greater Manchester that is based upon the future, not upon the past. The case for fracking hasn't been made, it belongs to the past not to the future..."
Earlier, speaking on stage at the start of the march in Piccadilly, Green Party Mayoral candidate, Deyika Nzeribe, had espoused similar principles...
"We need to make sure that no matter who is President of the United States, whoever is in Number 10, the shale gas industry is not allowed to hoodwink the public into believing that fracking is any kind of part of an energy strategy for the future" he said.
"We need to ensure that the democratic voice of the people in Lancashire is respected" he added, telling the marchers "We also need to remember that you are part of the long line of activists from all around the world, protecting Earth, air and the water against degradation...Barton Moss, Balcombe, Roseacre Wood, the South Africa wild coast, the XL pipeline, North Dakota...
"You might not be aware of it but you are in the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, historical birthplace of the industrial revolution" he explained "The Green Party vision, my vision, for a Northern Powerhouse is one powered by clean, green, renewable energy, produced here in the north and which creates more jobs per pound invested than shale gas ever can; clean energy powered by its people, its wind, waves and sun...well, daylight if not sun!"
In a dig at the Labour Party Mayoral candidate he added; "You can't be against fracking and for building on Green Belt. You can't be against fracking and for expanding the airport. You can't be for and against the planet..."
Over the day there was a huge range of speakers all with the same anti-fracking message. The optimism was summed up by Louise Somerville Williams of Frack Free Somerset and the Campaign Against Climate Change...
"We are changing the world together" she said "At the Perterloo Massacre people made history; the UK road protest movement changed the road building programme; GM crop campaigners gathered in their hundreds and there is now no commercially grown GM crops in this country; the women of Scotland brought about the Fair Rent Act in eight weeks...We will be heard...The people who want to bring about this toxic industry have reckoned without our power; each and every one of us has that power."
Louise quoted legendary poet, singer songwriter and political thinker, Leonard Cohen, who died yesterday...
`So much of the world is plunged into darkness and chaos
So ring the bells that can still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in...'
"In Australia, the United States and the UK people have camped out and said `No' to this toxic industry" she concluded "We can win. We will win. We are the power and this is what democracy looks like..."
Photos by Steven Speed