The first day of a major protector action against gas fracking near Blackpool kicked off yesterday with ska-robics, speeches and activities from a wide range of green campaigning groups.
The celebration/blockade, rounding off of a three-month campaign schedule under the banner United Resistance, kept up a high-energy approach through sweltering 30 degree temperatures as hundreds of people took on frack-firm Cuadrilla, which is trying to get government permission to begin full operations at its Preston New Road site.
Milo Phillips of Reclaim the Power said:
Today we’re celebrating and supporting local resistance to fracking, here in Lancashire and everywhere. With the climate crisis more urgent than ever, the last thing we need is new gas infrastructure that will lock us into dirty energy for decades to come.
A rapid, just transition away from fossil fuels to renewables can create sustainable employment for local people while respecting the planet, unlike fracking. Our message today is clear: whatever the bullying and evasion tactics from government and the fracking industry, we’ll be there organising with local communities ensuring it does not go ahead.
Claire Stephenson from local group Frack Free Lancashire, said:
Despite the PR bluster that has been continually spun from government and industry, peer-reviewed science has highlighted the inherent dangers associated with fracking. Local people voted no to fracking in 2015, but our decision was overturned by the Westminster government, exposing local democracy as a sham. We continue to stand in defiant, unwavering opposition to this industry: Cuadrilla has zero social license to operate in our communities and we will continue to peacefully demonstrate that.
During the day’s speeches special solidarity was sent to protectors in the Pont Valley, currently fighting off opencast coal mining, and the campaign to save the last of Hambacher Forest, ancient woodland in Germany which is also being destroyed to make way for mining.
Cuadrilla firm says it will be ready to begin commercial drilling in the third quarter of 2018, seven years after its first attempt at Preese hill caused earthquake tremors and prompted a temporary fracking ban.
Since then the firm has ploughed huge sums of money into trying to make the test site viable, including going over the head of Lancashire County council when it rejected planning permission for the Preston New Road site in 2015 to lobby senior ministers.
Most recently, in the face of ongoing losses and disruption caused by a coalition of groups aimed trying to resist the drilling plan, it took out a swingeing civil injunction against protesting on or near its site, borrowing from legislation first drafted to shut down the animal rights movement.
There will be plenty more action to come tomorrow, organisers say, and the event is expected to finish with a United Resistance promenade parade along Blackpool seafront.
Government surveys suggest that only 18% of the public support fracking, compared to 85% for renewables. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have also warned that fracking is incompatible with government targets to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.
Despite this, the government last month announced plans to change planning laws to promote fracking, taking fracking decisions out of the hands of local authorities and allowing drilling to take place without planning applications.
More details about the weekend are available here.
Pics: Reclaim The Power