An estimated two thousand people marched through the centre of Manchester today in what was probably the largest ever anti-fracking gathering ever seen in the United Kingdom. Activist converged on the city from Lancashire, Yorkshire, London, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, claiming Manchester was today the "capital of the so-called bleak and desolate north".
The march was led by Bianca Jagger, who addressed the crowd at the Castlefield Arena by saying “I’m here not only as the founder and president of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, but as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother because I feel fracking is a real threat to our way of life, it’s a threat to our environment, it’s a threat to our water sources, it’s a threat to the air we breathe, it’s a threat to everything we think is important in our lives."
MP for Leigh and Makersfield, and Labour Party candidate for the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham received some of the laudest applause of the day for saying "I can't support fracking in Leigh, in Greater Manchester or anywhere."
John Ashton, the former Foreign Office Special Representative for Climate Change, until he resigned in
2002, spoke about his namesake, John Ashton, who died at Peterloo, and made the comparison with this march. He also called on the membership of the GMB and Community trade unions to rise up and overturn
their leadership's support for fracking.
There was a video message from Emma Thompson, who thanked what she called the "investor removal teams" - activists who, by their opposition to fracking at sites such as Barton Moss to Balcombe, have made
sure that the big money has stayed away from shale gas.
Martin Porter from the Manchester Greenpeace Network said "This has been a tremendous day that will send a clear message to the government. It has also inspired every one of thousands who attended today. We are
ready for the fight that we know is coming next year, and we will win