Campaigners known as the “New Suffragettes” are taking drastic action to protect a small Yorkshire village. But the action by the group of women is just the next stage in an increasingly long line of public displays of civil disobedience over fracking.
A fracking liberty
The government has granted Third Energy a licence to extract shale gas by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at the KM8 site, in the village of Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. The county council granted Third Energy planning permission in May 2016, but local residents and Friends of the Earth went to the High Court to challenge the decision in December.
But the judge ruled in Third Energy’s favour and work has been progressing to prepare the site ever since.
Meanwhile, residents and campaigners who call themselves ‘protectors’ set up the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp. It aims to highlight the opposition to fracking that exists in the area. Demonstrations have been ongoing since the start of the year. And now, a group of 12 women have been taking drastic action.
As The Canary previously reported, the Kirby Misperton “New Suffragettes” chained themselves to the Pickering and District Conservative Club on 6 November. They told The Canary the demonstration was to highlight both the government and local Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake’s failure to take people’s concerns over the KM8 site seriously:
But after receiving no response from Hollinrake, the women took further action.
On Wednesday 15 November they “stormed” a Ryedale District Council meeting. A Kirby Misperton Protectors spokesperson told The Canary the New Suffragettes did this to:
Get answers to pressing questions about work at the KM8 fracking site… However, the council refused to hear the question. With nowhere left to turn, and the next full council meeting months away, on Friday 24 November the New Suffragettes marched on North Yorkshire County Council’s headquarters in Northallerton.
So, on 24 November the women with around 60 supporters marched on the council’s main office:
The group chanted “We asked the fracking questions, now we want the fracking answers!” and called on the council to “Do your duty”.
At the council’s headquarters security told them to enter what they described as a ‘protest pen’ in the carpark. The New Suffragettes and their supporters refused, arguing that the council office is a public building. They then took over the main steps at the office’s entrance:
A small group of New Suffragettes then entered the building and met with representatives of the council, with whom they discussed their concerns about the KM8 site.
A Kirby Misperton spokesperson told The Canary:
The questions cover many areas including breaches in the traffic management plans, failures in water quality monitoring and lack of comprehensive wildlife surveys, as well as raising concerns about policing. Of significant concern were the questions raised regarding the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive to inspect the site, under the Health and Safety at Work Regulations… for the safety of both site staff, and the local community.
A fracking disgrace
Campaigners’ concerns about fracking are over-arching; from polluted drinking water and earthquakes, to its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. What makes it a hot topic, though, is the public anger it provokes, witnessed at sites such as Preston New Road and KM8. And the anger is such that campaigners are growing more willing to take whatever action is necessary to make their feelings known.
– Sign the petition to make fracking illegal.
– Read more about fracking from The Canary.
Featured image and additional images by Kirby Misperton Protectors
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