Westminster Square has been turned into a mock fracking site, complete with 10-metre drilling tower, uniformed workers and harris fencing. A sign reads ‘Frack&Go – Your Friendly Local Frackers’. The stunt was organised and carried out by Greenpeace UK in protest against hydraulic fracturing corporation, Cuadrilla, which is trying to overturn the June decision by a local council, that prevented it from drilling in Lancashire.
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) February 9, 2016
Meanwhile, locals opposed to fracking rallied outside Blackpool FC, where a public inquiry into the decision was held. In 2014 local protesters Frack Free Lancashire, fought a campaign in co-operation with environmentalists across the country. In June 2014, one of the fields where Cuadrilla intended to frack was turned into a protest site, and dozens of direct actions on fracking industry and government buildings were carried out over a 24 hour period.
— Helen Rimmer (@HelenJqRimmer) February 9, 2016
In July, Frack Free Lancashire and the nationwide anti-fracking movement, won a victory when Cuadrilla’s drilling application was rejected at the next level, by the Country Council. Greenpeace activist Daisy Sands called it, “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and “a triumph for local democracy.” But it was understood that Cuadrilla would make an appeal and feared that the decision would be taken over the heads of local government.
Cuadrilla’s appeal, beginning February 9, may take as long as five weeks and the government has decided that the final decision will be made by Communities Minister Greg Clark. However, as the Tories have repeatedly stated that they are wholly committed to fracking, it is unlikely that local people will have their views taken into account.
Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy has pointed out the government’s inconsistency here, saying:
It’s hypocritical for ministers to support devolution and local democracy for decision-making over windfarms, only to then trample over the views of local communities when it comes to fracking. The government has completely failed to win public support for these drilling projects, which is not surprising as they abandoned important environmental safeguards. By seeking to impose fracking, public concern is only likely to deepen.
Pressure is also being put on the government from celebrities like Mark Ruffallo, who has released a video message warning David Cameron that he is making a ‘legacy mistake’ on fracking, and that he will lose all credibility if it goes ahead. The Prime Minister has previously stated that local decisions on fracking sites will be respected.
Public opposition revolves around well-founded fears of water pollution, and methane leaks, but also noise and traffic concerns. For Marie and Rowland Taylor, who live near the proposed Cuadrilla development site, the gripe has been the value of their home which has plummeted by £50,000 since the company announced its intention to drill.
The fracking industry, despite an inside track on government and huge PR campaigns, is failing to convince anyone on the science, or win the debate in the public eye. Those protesting against fracking have seen what happens in the US. The protest is persistent and well-informed. They are also organised as the #Frackminster stunt shows. Cuadrilla has proved that it is willing to override the wishes of locals. If the government wishes to flog a dying horse they will find it increasingly costly to do so.
–Find out if your area been licensed for fracking.
-Let Greg Clarke know what decision you want him to make through Twitter.
–Sign the Greenpeace petition.
–Donate to Roseacre Awareness Group, a local group fighting fracking in Lancashire.
Image via twitter.
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