Wallies, truck surfers and a strident one-woman blockade: the last week of Reclaim the Power’s Rolling Resistance lived up to the (very high!) standards set by a fantastic range of creative actions that ordinary people working together had managed to pull off throughout July.
But with the fracking industry feeling the pinch on their purses, and security at the site continuing to escalate to violence, it was another rollercoaster week for our emotions.
Monday: What? Where?
The week got off to a comic start, as dozens of people, many having travelled from Oxford, dressed up as cartoon character Where’s Wally descended on the site – acting as a massive decoy for security and the police. Meanwhile, four people locked into arm tubes (Wally masks still on, of course).
The jovial mood continued as we were all cheered on by political folk rock band, Seize the Day performing a series of folk songs to cheer on the group. The true wallies of the day were, as ever, Cuadrilla.
— Reclaim The Power (@reclaimthepower) July 24, 2017
We also got a signal of welcome relief from the huge police presence that’s been amassing in Lancs over the month, as North Wales police announced they would pull out of policing the site, having spent only two weeks in the new Mutual Aid programme. Commissioner Arfon Jones stated that Cuadrilla should “pay for their own security” and that Welsh police should not be “facilitating an activity which is more or less unlawful in their own country”. Policing costs make fracking unsustainable when the service is itself subject to further cuts.
Tuesday truck surfing!
A spectacular action kicked off by chance this morning, as 8 trucks heading to the site – carrying important bits of equipment – foolishly came via our campsite… With some ace teamwork to slow the lorries down, first two then three people with a head for heights climbed on top of the lorries – stopping them from going anywhere! Surfing on lorries, armed with rolling resistance flags – not a bad way to spend time on Preston New Road.
Wednesday: three ways to stop fracking
As another truck surfer joined in the fun, 2 truck surfers stuck it out all night and were happily settled in for another day of disruption as the rain poured down.
Meanwhile, down at the site we saw two sets of lock-ons from our friends at Rising Up! and then a powerful silent procession of Lancashire women to call for calm outside the site. A wonderful showing of the diversity of tactics on show to resist fracking.
— Reclaim The Power (@reclaimthepower) July 26, 2017
Thursday: Cuadrilla’s dirty tactics
Four people from Lancaster kicked off a blockade this morning, locking their arms inside concrete and metal tubes inside cars – leaving the police confused about how to cut them out, and Cuadrilla’s schedule of work further delayed.
In fact, Cuadrilla had to break the law to sneak equipment into the site at 4.30am this morning – the terms of their agreement with the council mean Cuadrilla can only operate during specified working hours. Clearly Cuadrilla are realising that fracking in Lancashire will not be easy. But it also shows how easily this reckless company sweeps aside rules to try and get its own way: a deeply worrying sign, before we’re even close to any drilling beginning. Cuadrilla’s actions will only strengthen everybody’s resolve to keep fighting.
Meanwhile the truck surfers remained in place stopping more lorries from moving in – some approaching 60 hours as night (and rain) fell…
Friday: a 200-strong frack-free carnival
Over two hundred people rallied at the Preston New Road fracking site for the final mass family-friendly demonstration of the month. We heard from choirs and victorious anti-fracking campaigners from Scotland and Ireland, while the carnival atmosphere ramped up – including hula hooping, circus skills and a giant anti-fracking version of snakes and ladders. We were even joined by Mr Blobby and a giant rabbit. What better way to celebrate the strength, creativity and diversity of all the people standing up to this reckless and undemocratic industry?
Even more reason for the crowds to cheer was the news that two of the haulage firms that own lorries still being truck-surfed decided in the face of protests to rule out working with Cuadrilla. We continue to break the supply chain for the fracking industry – and its social licence to operate.
Just in case Cuadrilla thought they could catch us out, with many local people due to appear in court straight after a big celebratory weekend, we proved that just one person’s bravery can shut down operations for the day. On the final working day of July, a van containing one woman and a one-tonne barrel lock on blocked the entrance to the fracking site.
To add to that, members of Rising Up! sprung into action with 2 lock-on tubes to successfully stop three tankers from getting into the site in the evening.
That makes it disruptive actions against the fracking industry every-single-working-day of July. Yessss!
While July is now over, the resistance against fracking certainly isn’t. The past month has drawn hundreds of people to the Preston New Road site, many of them taking direct action for the first time. Media coverage of the actions has spread the word about Cuadrilla’s attempt to ride roughshot over local opposition far and wide. Even international audiences are now aware of the incredible fight people in Lancashire, and all of us supporting them, are putting up to stop fracking taking place.
If anything, the past month has awakened an even stronger and more determined community of resistance to fracking: not here, not anywhere. The figures speak for themselves: government data out last week showed public support for fracking in the UK at record low, with just 16% in favour of drilling for shale gas. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of people in the UK support renewables. Seems like the government and the fracking industry are having trouble with simple maths if they’re serious about trying to carry on…
It’s been an incredible month. There’s been triumph, lots of laughter, tears, newfound friendships and some serious bravery on show. This is by no means the end. We won’t stop resisting fracking. Until. We. Win.