Thanks to Amna Usman for the video
On Friday 16th March over 200 people gathered at the gates of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road (PNR) frack site. The family friendly ‘Jig at the Rig’ event was organised by national environmental group Reclaim The Power (RTP), in support of the successful and ongoing campaign to resist hydraulic fracturing in Lancashire. PNR is a frontline community in the fight for climate justice between renewables vs fossil fuels. Here democratic process is empowered over central government dominance and people power grows on strength over corporate greed.
It’s been a relentless seven years of organising, marching, demos, speaking tours, petitions and lobbying by environmental organisations. And even Lancashire County Council voted against fracking in 2016. Cuadrilla appealed and were rejected. Yet, the decision was overturned by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid in Westminster. Eventually driving people to take direct action to delay work on the site itself.
Construction of the fracking site began in January 2017 and the ugly monstrosity that locals jokingly call ‘Rusty the Rig’, sitting in the farm field adjacent to the A583 is the direct result of shameful politics. Since then the #WeSaidNo campaign has taken the dispute to the road. For Lancashire campaigning groups, including the much loved Nanas, there have been daily protests and regular blockades of the fracking site entrance. As Tina Rothery (one of the Nanas) announced as part of ‘Jig at the Rig’ – only because of protests and gatherings against fracking, has the information been accessible and widely spread amongst the UK that fracking isn’t necessary for UK’s energy supply. People now know, they were being misled by the media and government. Recently headlines appeared stating that the UK actually doesn’t import as much Russian gas as people were lead to believe – the UK imports a mixture of international gas but Russian Gas being less than 1% a year.
The atmosphere at ‘Jig at the Rig’ was electric. People from around the UK united for climate and social justice, standing in solidarity with those on the Fylde dedicated to winning this key anti-fracking campaign. People came together in a defiant, mass action at the gate, celebrating togetherness, side-by-side in understanding and care for one another in our shared environment. Speeches and performances called upon a fighting spirit and a resistance that faces a crucial next few months. Using the strength of people power to make a stand, if only even for one day, it can make a difference. For every hour the fracking site is blocked, is another inconvenience to Cuadrilla. A delay on site increases financial costs as fracking machinery is often expensive and rented, on top of further protests make fracking a risky business to invest in.
Whilst PNR is the site most immediately threatened by this onshore extreme energy industry, companies are applying for licences in many regions threatening pristine countryside, making fracking a national issue. Attempts have been made to drill in or near National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty using legal loopholes and political pressure. Seven out of eight Local Councils have voted against fracking in 2018, including those in Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. In the South ‘Leith Hill Protection Camp’ now backs up a campaign that has been running for over eight years. In Kirby Misperton North Yorkshire, campaigners breathed a huge sigh of relief when Third Energy made the decision to pack up and leave – they have said they will be back to frack, yet their accounts have been in arrears for years! Direct action over last winter forced delays to Third Energy’s construction progress and have now removed most of the equipment from the site, sending hope rippling across the country. Shutting down fracking at PNR will send out another powerful message that the fracking industry has no community consent and is not welcome in the UK.
Our government are negligent on many issues from tackling air pollution and the lack of action to introducing plastic recycling systems, fracking is another failure to address the world’s most pressing concerns. Scotland, Ireland, France, Bulgaria, The Netherlands and Denmark have successfully fought off fracking and enacted bans. It is imperative for future generations that extractive industries are scaled down, and certainly no new industries started, in order to protect biodiversity and humanity.
Don’t miss the action, making waves of change, uniting movements at the gates of Preston New Road!