Pete Whittaker at Wharncliffe Crags

Pete Whittaker at Wharncliffe Crags

A top climber has joined the campaign against fracking, in the week the controversial gas-extraction process started in Lancashire.

Pete Whittaker, a Patagonia brand ambassador, has produced a video outlining his objections to the expansion of shale-gas extraction.

Cuadrilla began fracking at Little Plumpton near Blackpool this week, a week after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued dire warnings on the consequences of climate change and the continuing use of fossil fuels.

California-based brand Patagonia, noted for its environmental campaigning, joined Friends of the Earth in supporting Whittaker’s call for an end to fracking.

In his video, filmed at Wharncliffe Crags north of his home town of Sheffield, the climber points out land just 200m east and west of the gritstone crags is licensed for potential fracking.

He said: “For me, nature is about being outside and challenging myself on new climbing routes.

“The most important thing about nature is that it’s there for everybody – nobody owns it.

“Wharncliffe Crags are an amazing nature spot, which was at the forefront of UK rock-climbing as it developed in the 1880s. The place is popular to this day among climbers, walkers, bikers, trail runners and more.

“Just 200m to the east and west, the land is licensed for fracking.

“Anyone who loves the English countryside should be concerned about fracking, and I think we should stand up for our environment.

“It makes me sad to think that there are companies out there who can only see nature as something to be exploited for profit – they’re completely blind to its importance for our health and wellbeing.”

Friends of the Earth said more than 17,000 sq km of England is covered by oil- and gas-exploration licences, which could put large parts of the countryside, including areas enjoyed by climbers, walkers and mountain bikers at risk of industrialisation.

Whittaker was the first person to rope-solo climb El Capitan in Yosemite Park in California in less than 24 hours.

His ascent involved free-climbing the Freerider route using the technique that involves climbing sections of the route, abseiling back down and reclimbing, cleaning up gear on the second climb.

Patagonia, founded by climber Yvon Chouinard in 1973, says its mission is to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. The company is recognised internationally for its commitment to environmental activism, having contributed nearly $90m (£68m) in grants and in-kind donations to date.

Pete Whittaker – Join the Fight against Fracking

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