Lancaster councillor pleads not guilty to alleged fracking protest offences

Lancashire County Coun Gina Dowding, left, with other protestors in Blackpool.
Lancashire County Coun Gina Dowding, left, with other protestors in Blackpool.

A Lancaster councillor has appeared in court charged with offences alleged to have taken place during an anti-fracking protest.

Coun Gina Dowding, of Aldcliffe Road, was among 12 people arrested on July 3 outside the Cuadrilla shale gas drilling site at Little Plumpton. Two of those were also town and borough councillors from the Fylde and Kirkham.

It will be the biggest single prosecution of its type since protesting started.

They are all charged with wilfully obstructing the highway.

They are also charged under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act with hiding or depriving people working for Cuadrilla of tools and works clothing.

Coun Dowding, 54, who pleaded not guilty, said she had “no choice” but to protest.

She said: “It’s abundantly clear that when it comes to fracking, local councils have been rendered weak and helpless. I felt I need to be here with the community to say that we won’t roll over and accept this. We put our bodies on the line because our voices haven’t been heard.”

Protestors from Fleetwood, Warton, Wrea Green, Blackpool, Liverpool and St Annes also pleaded not guilty.

The court appearances on August 8 are the first of almost 100 arrests made during a month-long ‘rolling resistance’, organised by protest group Reclaim the Power. The accused were all bailed by District Judge Jeff Brailsford at Blackpool Magistrates court until their trial starts on November 13.