The move came as Cuadrilla Resources published a long-awaited report, undertaken by independent experts, concluding it was “highly probable” that its fracking had caused two small earthquakes earlier this year.
Four members of the environmental campaign group Frack Off unfurled banners after climbing a rig at the Cuadrilla site at Banks, near Southport, Merseyside, at around 5.30am on Wednesday. Others remained on the ground as part of a day of action that will also see campaigners try to interrupt an industry summit on the future of shale gas at the Copthorne Tara hotel in London.
Objections to shale operations focus on potential water contamination, owing to the chemicals pumped into the ground with water to hydraulically fracture, or “frack”, to release the hydrocarbons.
Cuadrilla suspended fracking operations during the inquiry into minor quakes in Lancashire.
A spokeswoman for Lancashire police said: “Police are in attendance and a cordon has been put in place around the site. We are liaising with the site owners and the protesters to bring about a peaceful resolution.”
A spokesman for the company, which recently found huge reserves in north-west England, said they were assessing the situation.
Colin Eastman, one of the protesters who scaled the rig, said: “Conventional fossil fuels have begun to run out and the system is moving towards more extreme forms of energy like fracking, tar sands, and deep water drilling.
“The move towards ‘extreme energy’ is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, sucking the last, most difficult-to-reach fossil fuels from the planet at a time when we should be rapidly reducing our consumption altogether and looking for sustainable alternatives. In the UK, fracking for shale gas is planned alongside, not instead of, extraction of conventional fossil fuels like coal.”
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