The public gave the government a bit of a wake-up call about fracking on Thursday 25 October. It came in the form of a massive petition; one signed by over 300,000 people.
Fracking: people aren’t happy
Campaign group Friends of the Earth had organised the petition. The group delivered it to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on 25 October; the same day a consultation over changes to planning laws for fracking closed. The petition told the government people wanted it:
to ensure that local councils retain their right to make planning decisions on fracking, and to not allow fracking companies to drill without planning permission.
Morning! Today we’re at @mhclg handing in a petition by more than 300,00 people who say NO to fast-track #fracking in England. @JBrokenshire, please #LetCommunitiesDecide! #WeSaidNo pic.twitter.com/KE0coZhGN5
— Friends of the Earth ? (@friends_earth) October 25, 2018
Friends of the Earth campaigner Connor Schwartz told The Canary that the petition was to let the government:
know the strength of feeling against their idea to fast-track fracking. They want to relax planning rules so fracking companies can drill almost at will. None of this is right. And more than anything it flies in the face of what needs to be done if we are ever going to get to grips with the scale of change needed to fix climate chaos. The world’s leading scientists have warned, in the starkest terms, of the road we are headed down if we don’t get off fossil fuel dependency. So why is this government hell-bent on digging up and burning more fossil fuels?
The fracking industry is contentious. Many people are against it; not least because of its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. It’s been linked to polluted drinking water and earthquakes. Studies also appear to show links to low birth weights, premature births, and a possible increased risk of breast cancer. The Canary has followed opposition from local residents where fracking has begun. And it’s been robust.
But already, the government’s green light for fracking is causing uproar.
Preston New Road in Lancashire is at the centre of a row over fracking. Cuadrilla has permission to drill the site for shale gas, which has pitted it against local people. In July, the government officially gave Cuadrilla the go-ahead to start extracting shale gas. But the decision drew more protests from locals. Then, a judge jailed three activists (whom another judge promptly freed). But after a court case, bad weather and protests stopped it, Cuadrilla finally began work on Monday 15 October. This was met with more protests.
Then, the earthquakes began.
11 earthquakes in a week?
As The Canary has been following, the British Geological Survey recorded 11 tremors near to Preston New Road. These were between Thursday 18 and Wednesday 24 October. But the strongest of these, on 24 October, measured 0.5 in magnitude. This is classed as a red event on the government’s “traffic light” system for seismic activity:
But as Helen Rimmer from Friends of the Earth told ITV News:
Local people are very worried about this and are worried that this is a sign of… much more worrying and larger earth tremors that could be to come.
“We do need gas for energy security…but we have plenty of conventional gas…this is a new unconventional source that we don’t have the time to explore.The world’s top scientists have said we have to move away from fossil fuels." @HelenJqRimmer of @friends_earth re: #fracking. pic.twitter.com/k6sa3h6dCq
— Frack Off London (@FrackOffLondon) October 25, 2018
And Schwartz told The Canary:
Fracking may have only just started but it is deeply unpopular. In the last week there have already been a number of earthquakes in Lancashire. Also, the risks to local air quality and groundwater are well documented. Now the government is proposing to take away people’s say in whether fracking companies can get a foothold where they live. It’s time that we stopped opening doors for this risky industry and instead listened to the concerns of local people. We need to let communities decide.
So, we’ll have to wait and see if the government responds to the petition. But with chaos in Lancashire and huge public disquiet – how much longer can UK fracking last?
Featured image via Friends of the Earth – Twitter
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?