CELEBRITY fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood paid a visit yesterday to the fracking protest camp in Chester to show her support to the cause.
The 73-year-old designer, who rose to fame in the 1970s by bringing punk clothing into the mainstream, yesterday thanked protesters at the Upton camp for their work in trying to stop test drilling at the site for coal bed methane.
She is helping film a TV documentary about fracking with production company Finished Films which is aiming to look at both sides of the fracking debate.
At the site Dame Vivienne took part in a discussion about potential risks surrounding unconventional gas extraction ahead of a public debate in Manchester with Talk Fracking – a campaign aiming to stimulate public debate on both sides.
Dame Vivienne told protesters: “I’m here right now in this field because it’s wonderful to be able to say in person that I respect so much, and I want to thank so much, the people who are here occupying these tents in this field because fracking is a national problem and, of course, it’s a world problem, an American problem and it’s absolutely vital we stop climate change.
“And I believe we need to win this campaign against fracking because that is going to contribute to it, so it’s the legacy for our future, people in future – not me, I’ll be dead – but for our children and for the earth itself.”
She attacked the fracking companies for being “scared” to hold proper public debates on the topic and said they were only putting out “half truths” on the topic.
“If I want to change someone’s mind then I want them to have all the facts. I do not want to misinform or lie to them,” she added.
“It is massively important to hear what people have to say.”
The site on Duttons Lane has been manned 24 hours a day in recent weeks, preventing Dart Energy, now owned by shale gas explorer Igas, from testing for underground gas deposits.
Campaigners say they have the full backing of the community, having collected more than 900 petition signatures.
They fear deep drilling could unleash cancer-causing chemicals into the local water supply and even cause earthquakes.
About 18,000 people live in the Upton area, with more than 3,000 children attending a school within a mile of the proposed test site, the group says.