“Wheelies for Water” mass frack-free bike ride protests wastewater treatment plant’s involvement in the fracking industry.
Last night (Friday 22nd June 2018) scores of people on decorated bicycles took part in a mass ride from Sheffield town centre to Blackburn Meadows Wastewater Treatment Plant, near Meadowhall, protesting its involvement in the controversial fracking industry.
The ride took place as part of Break the Chain 2018, a fortnight of direct actions targeting the fracking industry, its supply chains and political support, organised by campaign group Reclaim the Power.
After arriving at Blackburn Meadows, riders were treated to talks from Natalie Bennett (former leader of the Green Party, and candidate for Sheffield Central ward) and members of local frack free groups. Alongside conventional bicycles, the ride featured a cargo tricycle hauling a 4m tall fracking rig art installation, tandem bicycles and a bicycle trailer sound system.
Eleanor Palmer – a local frack free campaigner and member of Reclaim the Power – said:
“Fracking is a major threat to public health and does not offer meaningful secure jobs like a thriving renewables industry would. Local people have repeatedly rejected it, but are now faced with a double attack: from companies resorting to bullying tactics, and a government now taking further steps to deprive residents of the right to decide whether their community should be fracked.
The fracking industry depends on a range of services. We are asking companies to not become involved and support this dirty business. Having witnessed the appalling public and environmental health records fracking companies have in the USA and Australia, we fear for the well-being of our community and the rest of the world affected by climate change. We don’t want fracking or the need for its filthy waste water processing here in Sheffield: not here, not anywhere.”
- The ride began at Sheffield Town Hall at 6pm and looped through the city centre before pedalling out along Saville Street to Blackburn Meadows (Alsing Road, S9 1EQ). At 8pm, they were met by more people travelling in public transport for the talks / entertainment.
- Much of the area around Sheffield is licensed to be fracked, with Harthill and Eckington being the two closest communities currently affected.
- In 2016, Sheffield Council passed a motion to oppose fracking on any council owned land. However, the Government recently announced plans to make test drilling easier for developers by removing the need to apply for planning permission and classing fracking as nationally significant infrastructure. This means approval will come at a national rather than local level.
- Each fracking well consumes, on average, 10 million gallons of water. When this is pumped out, it is contaminated with radioactive material, bacteria, and various chemicals. FCC Environmental – that has facilities at Blackburn Meadows (Sheffield), Ecclesfield (Sheffield) and Knostrop (Leeds) is contracted to process this waste for various fracking companies operating in different parts of the UK.
- This action and the rest of Break the Chain 2018 took place as part of the United Resistance, three months of action opposing the fracking industry organised by Frack Free Lancashire and the Anti-Fracking Nanas.
- Last summer, the organisers of this event, Reclaim the Power (reclaimthepower.org.uk), hosted a month long “Rolling Resistance” at Preston New Road, during which time work was disrupted every working day of July.
- For photos of previous actions and demonstrations also coordinated by Reclaim the Power see Reclaim the Power’s Flickr