ANTI-FRACKING protesters are putting jobs at risk, a civil engineering firm has warned.

Bosses at A E Yates Ltd say they have been repeatedly targeted by Bolton Against Fracking members since being awarded a £1.5 million building contract for a controversial Lancashire fracking site in December.

The protesters have blocked vehicles from coming in and out of the Lostock Industrial Estate site, and the firm has now warned that the action is having a negative effect on business.

Chris Green MP, opposed to fracking in his Bolton West constituency, has also condemned a small minority of protesters who he says "act in an intimidating and aggressive manner".

Paul Boron, managing director of AE Yates: "I would not say there has been threatening behaviour here, but what they do is block our entrance.

"On Monday, for example, the protesters arrived at 6am and were stopping any movement of equipment from our depot by blocking access and refusing to move.

"Every member of staff that tried to get into work was denied entry.

"It is a disgraceful situation and this has happened a number of times in the last eight to 10 weeks. It is unacceptable.

"I will be meeting with police on Wednesday and we will be developing a strategy to promote peaceful protest.

"But we can't have people protesting in a way that prevents us from operating.

"We have no issue with protests, but this group is trying to stop our business and it is putting people's jobs at risk."

Last month, Horwich quarry operators Armstrong Aggregates cancelled its contract to provide AE Yates and drilling firm Cuadrilla with materials for the building of the shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton, in Lancashire.

The move came after dozens of Bolton Against Fracking protesters stationed themselves at the Montcliffe Quarry, in Georges Lane, though the firm said the decision was made for “purely commercial reasons”.

Mr Green has urged local firms concerned by the protests to contact him and the police.

He said: “While I have made it clear that there isn’t any foreseeable circumstance where I could support fracking within my constituency, I also cannot support the aggressive and intimidating behaviour of some protesters.

“While the majority of anti-fracking campaigners are peaceful, simply exercising their right to protest, there is a small minority who act in an intimidating and aggressive manner.

“These individuals are, more often than not, not local and jump on to various protests simply looking to cause trouble.

“If any local companies are concerned about disruptive elements of legitimate anti-fracking protests, I would urge them to get in touch with me and the police.”

River Rain, of the Bolton Against Fracking group, said: "We don't have any leaders in the anti-fracking movement, we are all individuals acting autonomously. So if police want to speak to us then they have to speak to all of us, which can be hard.

"We have done a lot of work around Bolton, disrupting the supply chain and protesting at local sites.

"We need to stop this fracking. The companies involved are not small companies, they relatively healthy and well off firms that employ a lot of people.

"The contract in question is short-term and they don't need it. When it is done, there will not be any jobs or money coming into the area from it in the future.

"We normally block any commercial vehicles going in and out of the yard, because we want to have an impact on their business.

"It can get a little heated sometimes, and we have had a couple of instances where people have driven at us or come out and shouted at us.

"The protest is not personal, it is about the business. If we can make the companies think it is not worth being involved with this fracking site, then they will not do it again."