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Peaceful protest at fracking site
4:42pm Sunday 12th January 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Hundreds of anti-fracking protesters have held a peaceful march and rally at a drilling site near Manchester.
Waving placards and banners bearing the words 'Frack Off' several hundred attended the rally before walking to the drilling site at Barton Moss on the outskirts of Salford, Greater Manchester.
The event comes amid reports oil giant Total is to become involved in fracking in the UK.
Police kept a low profile with just two officers guarding the entrance to the heavily fortified drilling site, protected by a concrete, steel and barbed wire perimeter fence, monitored by cameras.
Since November around 60 tents and caravans have sprung-up along the farm track leading to the site, between Barton Aerodrome and the M62.
Police have been called on a number of occasions and made arrests as protesters have made various attempts to stop lorries entering by erecting blockades such as a giant wind turbine blade and a bus.
Environmentalists claim there is indisputable evidence fracking causes air and water pollution and leads to earth tremors - the Government and industry say it is safe and will create jobs.
Peter Cranie, the North West Green Party's European election candidate, said: "Fracking won't bring down energy prices or create many jobs, and it won't help tackle climate change.
"Instead what's desperately needed is investment in home insulation and renewable energy. Fracking will increase traffic, deplete water supplies and could pollute our air and water. The Green Party's message is clear; we don't need it and we don't want it - there are much better solutions to our energy crisis."
Father-of-three Neil Jones, 51, a builder from Irlam, two miles away, came to support the protest.
He said: "I'm shocked at the scale of the site and the security - it's like something from Belfast.
"It's not a nimby thing - if they offered me a 20% cut in my gas bill it might alter my opinion.
"It's just not been researched enough, it's in its early days this method. I've not had anything through my door giving information about this.
"I'm worried the people of Salford will not see any benefits from this, but it is a pity more locals didn't turn out.
"I admire the principles of the protesters, staying in tents in weather like this."
Angie Jackson, a housewife from Stockport, Cheshire, said: "I'm here as a concerned grandmother.
"Every single place they have fracked, without exception, it's caused problems - water pollution, air pollution, earth movements."
Fellow protester Chris Pannel, 53, from Warrington, Cheshire, who gave his occupation as, "standing up to the corporations" added: "There will be thousands of these drilling wells, all over the North West.
"It doesn't supply local jobs, the corporations will just benefit from it.
"I don't want to have a bath and have my skin come off my back, I don't want my animals to die of poisoned water, I don't want to see the land poisoned as the chemicals seep up into the soil."
Energy company IGas was granted permission for exploratory gas drilling and says it is seeking methane and shale gas but has no plans for fracking.
Fracking involves the fracturing of rock by a pressurized liquid to release shale gas, with potentially vast reserves untapped across huge swathes of the UK.