Police are currently executing a search warrant on Barton Moss Road following an incident in which a flare was fired at the police helicopter.
At about 12.15am on Saturday 4 January 2014 a flare was fired directly into the approach path of the helicopter as it came into land at Barton airfield.
The aircrew have confirmed that it appeared to come from the site of the nearby 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.
“The protest camp appears to be a tight knit group who seem to be continually filming anything occurring on Barton Moss Road.
“If one of the protestors is responsible, I suspect their identity will be known to others and I would expect those reasonable members of the anti-fracking campaign to provide any information they have to the police.
“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.
“GMP continue to balance facilitating peaceful protest with the rights of others to go about their lawful business, whilst minimising disruption to the local community and businesses.
“Because of the way the camp is set up we have to systematically search the site under a warrant issued by a local 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.
“We have therefore had no option but to carry out this action.
“We are very grateful to the residents of nearby communities, who are well aware of the need for safety at the airfield, for their ongoing patience with regards to this matter.”