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Lancashire fracking protestors arrive at court

A retired midwife, an ex-soldier, a costume designer and 7 friends tell magistrates their peaceful fracking protest was reasonable
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Lancashire fracking protestors arrive at court

Ten volunteers from areas that face fracking have appeared at Blackpool Magistrates Court this week, after they peacefully protested fracking at Preston New Road in Lancashire in May.

The five men and five women, including a retired midwife, a supported housing manager, a yoga teacher trainee, a business analyst, a retired soldier, a mechanic and a film costume designer, felt they had to make their objections to fracking heard.

‘I first became aware of fracking because it was starting to happen in my hometown of Blackpool. I did my research and didn’t find it to be a proven and safe industry. I didn’t feel happy with the proximity to the town or the industrialisation of the countryside. I believe there are cleaner and safer alternatives such as wind, tidal and solar which would be a good alternative.’

Film costume textile artist, from Blackpool

A peaceful protest

Along with hundreds of other volunteers, Gillian, Liz, Helen, Jeff, Jane, Barrie, Peter, Hamish, James and Abi have campaigned against hydraulic fracturing for years, in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Manchester, Norfolk and beyond. They thoroughly researched the fracking process, read proposed fracking licenses, shared information with others through leaflets and events, signed petitions and contacted councillors and MPs about their concerns.

‘I am local and am concerned that once they have fracked, we will be living with the consequences forever. I have been campaigning to stop fracking for over five years now. I have delivered leaflets, run stalls to raise awareness, and got involved with activities to highlight the issue of fracking, such as community get-togethers. I have written to local councillors and MPs and I was outside Lancashire County Hall to celebrate when our council said No to the fracking companies.

‘I worry that once we have opened this Pandora’s box of fracking, we will not be able to sort out the issues left behind. I worry that fracking will cause Lancashire to lose work opportunities, tourism, farming and what was, until recently, a growing green economy.’

Supported housing manager from Preston

‘no social license’

Feeling that there was no social license for fracking at Preston New Road, but that democratic processes were being ignored and the worries of local people not being taken seriously, they decided to take part in a peaceful protest at the fracking site.

‘I acted in solidarity with other people who have peacefully protested fracking, but also acted for my own personal beliefs too. I believe fracking is irresponsible, risking the environment for profit.

I live just outside Scarborough in the North York Moors, an area that could be directly affected by fracking. As a National Park, this area should be protected. I was one of thousands who wrote to the planners rejecting fracking at the Kirby Misperton site. However, it has been given the go-ahead unfairly and undemocratically.’

Retired midwife from Scarborough

They safely linked their arms inside boxes painted yellow, the shared colour of resistance to fracking, which were also adorned with Lancashire roses.

The peaceful action created a strong visual image of defiance and showed solidarity with the hundreds of other individuals and groups like the Anti-fracking Nanas, Preston New Road Action Group, Roseacre Awareness Group and Frack Free Lancashire, who have given up their time to campaign against fracking ever since the temporary ban in 2011.

‘Fracking will lock this country into decades of unsustainable, dirty fossil fuel dependence at a time when the exact opposite needs to occur. Our country has abundant natural resources that could adequately supply the UK with clean, renewable energy whilst safeguarding the environment for future generations. The industry (and government) seems to be choosing to ignore this, just as they are refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming opposition to fracking within affected communities.’

Yoga teacher trainee from Wigan

Elisabeth Whitebread, energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK, accused the government of ‘blocking its ears to the rising voices asking them to stop backing fracking’, and that ordinary people like Gill, Liz, Jane and Helen are making that increasingly difficult.

‘With fracking now banned or blocked in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Westminster government is isolated. Their own plans show that fracked gas is an irrelevance for UK energy security. Greenpeace is standing with all the brave and dedicated local people who will continue to protest peacefully until ministers realise they would do better to ditch fracking and focus on clean, affordable and popular offshore wind, solar and tidal power instead.’

Energy campaigner at Greenpeace UK

Fracking support at all-time low

The Conservative manifesto said fracking would only continue with public support, but the party’s own opinion polls show support for fracking is at a record low, with more than twice as many people opposing it as supporting it.

According to the latest BEIS Energy and Climate Change Public Attitude Tracker report, released yesterday (02 November), UK support for fracking is at its lowest recorded level. Support for fracking has decreased from 16% to just 13%.

The same survey found that 36% of people polled were opposed, up from 33% last time the government commissioned this poll in August.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Rose Dickinson said the survey comes ‘at a critical time’, as the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, decides whether to grant the final permission to frack in England.

She added that now, as Mr Clark considers that decision in light of the highest recorded levels of public opposition, ‘he can still decide to stop fracking.’

‘Again, the government has asked the public what they think, and again, they don’t want fracking – the tiny support fracking does have is now at a record low.’

Friends of the Earth campaigner

Click here to find out more about the family-friendly protests that took place at Preston New Road.

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