Updated: Friday, 18th October 2019 @ 4:23pm

Manchester police helicopter attack: 'Stupid' anti-fracking protester hunted after firing flare

Manchester police helicopter attack: 'Stupid' anti-fracking protester hunted after firing flare

By Tim Hyde

A ‘stupid’ protester who fired a flare directly at a Manchester police helicopter last weekend is being hunted by police.

The helicopter came to land at Barton Airfield at around 12.15am on Saturday when the aircrew noticed a flare coming towards them from the Barton Moss Road area.

Police are searching for the offender who is believed to have launched the flare from a nearby anti-fracking protest camp.

Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts said: "This is was an unbelievably stupid act of criminality which was extremely dangerous, not only for the police helicopter, but all other aircraft that use the nearby Barton airfields and the wider public.

"Had this flare caused an emergency situation it would not only have been catastrophic for the aircraft and its crew but potentially for numerous homes near the airfield, the M62 motorway and a children's residential facility.”

Greater Manchester Police are urging anyone who knows the identity of the perpetrator to come foward and speak to them.

Chief Superintendent Roberts added: "An attack on the police of this nature has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not exploratory drilling is right or wrong.

“Whilst I recognise the genuine concerns of many of the protesters in relation to exploratory drilling, it is obvious that there is also an element of regular protesters from outside the Greater Manchester area who seem more interested in seeking confrontation with the police."

The camp will now be systematically searched by police under a warrant issued by the court.

"We will attempt to facilitate this through dialogue with protesters but we have to take all reasonable steps to ensure there is no repeat of this action near to the airfield and that we identify those responsible," added Chief Superintendent Roberts 

"We have therefore had no option but to carry out this action."

Picture courtesy of Ingy The Wingy via Flickr, with thanks

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