Campaigners have started a two-week battle against fracking companies

Great Yarmouth anti fracking protest
Steve Topple

Campaigners have launched a two-week assault on the fracking industry up and down the UK. And judging by one notorious company’s reaction, the frackers are already rattled.

‘Block Around the Clock’

Campaign group Reclaim the Power has organised the action. It said in a statement on its website that the campaign, called ‘Break the Chain’:

takes place 11-24 June 2018 as activists promise a fortnight of action disrupting companies across the UK supplying services and materials to the fracking industry. This will culminate the following week with ‘Block Around the Clock’, a protest of unprecedented scale and duration in Lancashire’s 7 year long anti-fracking history. Due to the nature of the other events planned, few details will be available in advance.

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The ‘Block Around the Clock’ event is a ‘direct action’ protest at a site in Lancashire operated by fracking giant Cuadrilla.

The Greens weigh in

But it’s not just campaigners doing some leg-work over fracking. The Green Party has also issued its support for Reclaim the Power’s action. As its co-leader Jonathan Bartley tweeted:

Green deputy leader Amelia Womack was indeed in Lancashire on Monday, speaking at the Preston New Road fracking site:

Fracking in Lancashire

The site has been at the centre of a row over fracking. Cuadrilla has permission to explore the site for shale gas. But local people are against the company’s plans. And they have stepped up their protests since January 2017.

The government gave the go-ahead for Cuadrilla to test for fracking there in 2016. But its operations have been dogged by numerous scandals. These include:

  • Campaigners and local councillors accusing police and private security at the site of using “disproportionate force” and trying to “provoke violence”; something both groups deny.
  • Political interventions from shadow chancellor John McDonnell, and from Green Party co-leaders Caroline Lucas and Bartley. Police at one point “dragged” Bartley away from the site.
  • The Environment Agency altering the terms of the company’s licence. Friends of the Earth branded the decision a green light for Cuadrilla to “intensify” fracking at the site.

Overarching concerns

Cuadrilla has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. And it has already hit back at Reclaim the Power’s planned action. It told the Lytham St Annes Express:

Having brought delay and disruption to thousands of Lancashire commuters last summer, Reclaim The Power is now threatening to do the same again this year… [Its] claims about the public health risks of exploring for shale gas in Lancashire are wholly unfounded…

But many people disagree. Aside from the obvious air pollution generated from burning fossil fuels and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, fracking has been linked to polluted drinking water and earthquakes. Studies have also shown links to low birth weights, premature births and a possible increased risk of breast cancer.

So it looks like this summer is set for an almighty battle between campaigners and fracking companies, and neither side will be budging that easily.

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– Read more about fracking from The Canary.

Featured image via Glen Black

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