CAMPAIGNERS gathered outside a Bolton engineering firm to protest about its role in a forthcoming fracking project in Lancashire.

Dozens of protesters stationed themselves at the base of AE Yates Ltd at the Lostock Industrial Estate holding placards and chanting messages against the controversial shale gas extraction process.

Last year The Bolton News reported how AE Yates had secured a £1.5 million contract to build a shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton site in Lancashire by drilling firm Cuadrilla.

And with work expected to start soon in Lancashire, members of the Bolton Against Fracking campaign group made their feelings clear about the planned role of the Lostock firm in the forthcoming drilling.

Spokesman Darren Tickle said: “The protest took place outside the AE Yates building because we believe that the firm is aiding and abetting the fracking industry.

“The whole point of the process is to register how unhappy we and the people of Bolton are that this company from the town is involved in this way.

“Cuadrilla may be doing the actual drilling but AE Yates is making it possible.

“We want to point out that if no firm agreed to build this facility then Cuadrilla wouldn’t be able to carry out fracking and put the planet in danger.”

When the AE Yates contract was announced in December, it put Bolton West MP Chris Green in a tricky position.

He has previously said that he would oppose the will of his Conservative Government by objecting to fracking taking place in his constituency.

But he did welcome the economic boost for a company in the area he represents.

Mr Tickle added: “I think its hypocritical for the MP to oppose fracking in his own backyard but to support this contract.

“Instead he should be pushing the renewable energy agenda with his government.”

When asked about the contract previously, Mr Green said: ““The oil and gas industry has for a long time been a really important part of the British industrial landscape, so a local firm being awarded a contract that will mean employment for staff in this vital industry is great.

“However, this has no bearing on the decision on whether fracking should be allowed in Bolton.

“I am still very sceptical that my constituency of Bolton West is a suitable place for fracking.”

He added: “There has still been no application for fracking in the area, so we can’t jump to conclusions and we will have to look at each separate location on its own merits.”

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