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9 Mar, 2014 19:33

Hundreds gather for anti-fracking march in Manchester (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Hundreds of protesters marched through Manchester, England on Sunday in what is believed to be one of the largest anti-fracking rallies to take place in the UK.

A recent survey carried out by the Manchester Evening News found that 73 percent of Greater Manchester residents are opposed to the controversial gas extraction technique – so on Sunday at noon, up to 1,000 demonstrators gathered in downtown to march from Piccadilly Gardens to Cathedral Gardens.

Many of the speakers and demonstrators included members of the long-standing Barton Moss protest camp in neighboring Irlam, just south of Manchester. There, energy firm IGas is carrying out test drilling to explore potential shale gas reserves beneath the green belt site at Barton Moss.

[PHOTO 7] #Salford Says... Anti #fracking demo #Manchester 09/03/14 pic.twitter.com/sbQzT1sknb

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014

The purpose of the march in Manchester was to send a clear message to the government and energy companies that the vast majority of Britons oppose fracking, Martin Porter, a spokesman for the Barton Moss camp and a member of Frack Free Greater Manchester, told the Manchester Evening News.

“The purpose of the day is to send a message out that we don’t want fracking in Manchester or anywhere else. At the moment, Barton Moss is at the center of attention across the country but before long two thirds of people in England and Wales might find a fracking rig on their doorstep,” Porter said.

[PHOTO 5] 'Water is Life'. Anti #fracking demo #Manchester 09/03/14 pic.twitter.com/G2vkLZBtQl

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014

A number of campaign groups were represented at the demonstration, including Friends of the Earth, the Green Party, and the Campaign Against Climate Change.

RT reporter Sarah Firth says people at the march complained that there is not enough awareness on fracking and therefore it is dangerous to pursue.

We're reporting today from the anti-fracking march in #Manchester as 100's take to the streets to demonstate @RT_compic.twitter.com/HACvhJfhBF

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014

Extraction by fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water and chemicals into the ground, which creates excess hydro waste. This might lead to an eventual contamination of the water table, local residents worry.

But supporters say fracking brings jobs and opportunities for energy independence – though detractors have pointed to exaggerated employment claims and health risks related to the chemicals used in the practice.

[PHOTO 1] #Manchester Not for #Shale. Anti #fracking protest 09/03/14 pic.twitter.com/dLXMJuf3Xh

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014

The UK government is planning to forge ahead with its plans for fracking, with Prime Minster David Cameron and many other leading figures in the Conservative party pushing to go all out for shale.

In December last year, the government issued a 49-page roadmap outlining how shale deposits could be exploited in the UK.

[PHOTO 2] Pregnant Protesting. Anti #fracking demo #Manchester 09/03/14 pic.twitter.com/tddfPtHf7Y

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014

But despite the government – in connection with energy firms – offering a £100,000 (US$167,000) sweetener for local communities where test drilling for shale is carried out, the public remains opposed to fracking, with many communities taking to the streets in protest.

Sarah Firth carried out her own poll on Twitter, in which she asked the question, “Do you support the Prime Minister's decision for the UK to go 'all out for shale?' Yes or No?” She tweeted that the overwhelming majority of people said “No.”

Ok well 'No' camp is well ahead in my #fracking#twitter poll! Anyone want to put forward a counter arguement. What about energy security?

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014

“We’ve only had a handful of exploratory drilling sites across the UK, but already we’ve seen huge local opposition. People do not want this in their local community and they don’t want it anywhere else,” Helen Rimmer from Friends of the Earth told RT.

[PHOTO 9] 'Please don't poison my water'. Anti #fracking demo #Manchester 09/03/14 pic.twitter.com/5o6hRCLJOl

— Sara Firth (@SaraFirth_RT) March 9, 2014