DEFRA blackade - Photo by Paul DaveyCampaigners from the Reclaim the Power camp at Blackpool are this morning occupying the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in London, following the release of a government report released last week containing 63 redactions on the potential impacts of shale gas exploration on rural communities. The Metropolitan Police are already onsite at DEFRA.

Monday August 18th 2014

 At 8am three activists superglued themselves to the doors of DEFRA’s main entrance and deployed reinforced arm tubes to prevent access. Two activists each insert an arm into opposite ends of the same pipe, “locking on” to each other’s hands in various ways. Another activist climbed the building and unfurled a banner reading: ‘WHAT’S TO HIDE DEFRA? – DON’T FRACK WITH OUR FUTURE’.  Some of the activists wore black tape across their mouths, highlighting the vital information which blacked out in the report. Deleted sections include analysis around falling house prices and failing rural services.  The chapter examining the effect of drilling on house prices had three sections cut. Only three paragraphs survive in the conclusion. A health policy report was likely redacted also, along with estimates suggesting the industry may not be commercially viable.

 One of the campaigners who is superglued to the building is Lindsay Alderton from London. Speaking from the protest she said:

 “Why is it that 63 segments of the DEFRA report were blacked out from public view?  What is it about the dangers of fracking that our government doesn’t want us to know? Keeping secret the impacts of shale gas extraction on the rural communities that it’s going to affect is shameful – the public has a right to know the effects upon their housing and local services. This morning we’re here at DEFRA to remind them that they work for the public that pays them their wages, and that the public demands to know the facts about fracking – censoring is not an acceptable option”

 Earlier this morning, other campaigners from Reclaim the Power shut down the Swansea Bay campus of Swansea University. The research at Swansea’s Energy Safety Research Institute will be focused on long-term ‘strengths’ in petroleum and chemical processing – particularly fracking. The primary collaborator will be BP.

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