Hundreds march against fracking in Eccles

Colin Barker, Ewa Barker, and Anne Saxon report from Sunday’s rally and look at the damage that fracking can do.

Picture by Mikhil Karnik

The latest in a series of solidarity demonstrations with the protest camp outside a fracking site in Eccles, Greater Manchester, took place on Sunday. The energy company IGas have chosen Barton Moss for their drilling test site. A camp to protect the land has been set up on the edges of the site.

Well over 500 people joined a march and rally, despite the rain. Many came from outside the Manchester area, drawn in by the various networks established at Balcombe, at Occupy and elsewhere. There were also three union banners from the North West.

We marched from outside the Salford Reds football ground to a lay-by near the fracking site. The rally consisted mostly of songs, interspersed with short rousing speeches. Mother Earth got a few mentions, but capitalism didn’t. The threat to water supplies from the chemicals used in fracking was mentioned prominently on placards. Less mentioned, was the link between fracking and the urgent threat of climate change.

Ages on the march ranged from teenagers to at least one 80-year old woman from the Green Party. One of the main activities of the camp is to try and block, or at least slow down, the huge lorries that bring equipment down the narrow lane to the drilling site. Old ladies who walk very slowly in front of the lorries are much valued here.

The response by the local community has been fairly solid and there has been a steady number of people camping on the fringes of the site for weeks. They have braved all that the weather has thrown at them, risking comfort and health on a daily basis. And they have been treated appallingly by the police, having their camp smashed up on at least one occasion.


Hydraulic fracking is a process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at very high pressure so that the shale rocks will release the gas inside. However, it can only be effective in sourcing the gas if water laced with chemicals and sand are driven at high velocity down the wells. Because the gas is trapped within the rock it needs the sand to keep the cracks from closing.

The fracking companies say that once the gas is extracted the water, the chemicals and the sand will be recovered, and the water will be safely disposed of in tanks somewhere. In the USA that these facts do not match reality. Up to half of the waste materials are left under ground.

This has consequences for the environment in many ways. If a leak happens, contaminants can get into the water table. The chemicals which have been injected could affect our drinking water, the land used for crops, and the animals grazing the fields above.

The gas produced by fracking is a fossil fuel. Fracking just adds to the CO2 going into the atmosphere and warming the planet. Fracking is no way to tackle any energy crisis. To have millions of tons of water and sand which cannot be recycled because of the chemicals within beggars belief. Where is it all coming from? And where is it all going to go?

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